Yeah ... Neither country is doing great at the moment. Hopefully it will just turn out to be a blip, but in case it isn’t books like Melissa de la Cruz’s Something In Between shine a very important light on some of the unsavoury arguments that are being thrown up about immigration .
This was a really sweet book about a type-A overachiever called Jasmine, the daughter of Filipino immigrants. Jasmine’s star is in the ascendant. She’s a straight A student, National Scholar (had to Google what that was) and captain of the cheerleading squad. She barely remembers the Philippines and America is her home. Only when she goes to accept her hard-won scholarship, the truth comes out: she and her family are undocumented (illegal) - their visas ran out years ago and her parents have been trying to figure out a way to keep them all in America whilst trying to avoid getting themselves deported.
It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?
There were lots of things I liked about this book, not least the fact it dealt with the Filipino community, a group of people that don’t crop up too often in literature. I liked the fact that the book deals with a contentious subject like undocumented immigration with grace and compassion and the portrayal of Jasmine and her family and the different ways they try to deal with their predicament.
There’s also a romance storyline going on alongside the issue of Jasmine’s legal status - that between Jasmine and Royce, the son of a super conservative congressman. Royce is pretty dreamy and I really liked that he wasn’t just posho rich kid - he had problems of his own. Throughout the book, Jasmine and Royce try a number of different ways to get her and her family documented and I did read through quite a bit of the book thinking, ‘They’re totally going to get married’. I won’t say whether they do or not, but suffice to say that the ending is a happy one.
At times I felt that the will-they-won’t-they aspect of the romance overshadowed what was, for me, the real point of the book, which was how Jasmine dealt with the legal and emotional ramifications around the change in her immigration status. The romance was super cute, though, so I kind of forgave them.
All in all this was a sweet book and I’d definitely recommend it. Especially for Americans. Especially before November the 8th.