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Something in Between


Something in Between

Melissa de la Cruz, author of the bestselling Blue Bloods series, has released a new young adult novel called SOMETHING IN BETWEEN. This novel introduces readers to the life of Jasmine de los Santos, a Filipina immigrant and high school senior who excels in all parts of her life, from being the captain of her cheerleading team to making outstanding academic achievements. When Jasmine wins a national scholar award that would pay for all four years of her undergraduate education, she expects her parents to be proud and excited for her. Instead, Jasmine learns the devastating truth: her and her family’s visas are expired, and they are residing illegally in the United States. Shocked, Jasmine is forced to come to terms with her new reality, as she questions what it really means to be an American and struggles to find a solution to her family’s problem. Along the way, Jasmine falls deeply in love with Royce, the son of a conservative senator, who Jasmine hopes does not support anti-immigrant legislation like his father.

"Cruz crafts a compelling novel that explores the complex issues of citizenship and illegal immigration while also including a light-hearted love story."

Cruz crafts a compelling novel that explores the complex issues of citizenship and illegal immigration while also including a light-hearted love story. As a character, readers will find Jasmine’s character likeable, but will not be able to relate to her. Jasmine feels too perfect to be a real person: she’s pretty, popular, athletic, smart and has easy relationships with her family and friends. Her internal struggles only begin once she learns of her non-existent citizenship status, which helps to put a spotlight on how the issue tears down what appears to be a perfect life. Still, creating a character like Jasmine does not exactly give young teenage girls a realistic or healthy role model. Jasmine’s ability to work to the point of exhaustion without any issues normalizes a frustrating obsession with perfection that induces unnecessary stress for many high school students today. Another disheartening aspect of Cruz’s novel is the treatment of traditional gender roles. A particularly surprising scene features Jasmine’s father and her boyfriend, Royce, working on the family’s car in the garage. When Jasmine comes to say hello, her father tells her to bring them glasses of lemonade. At first, Jasmine is annoyed, but after seeing Royce’s handsome face, she relents and brings out the lemonade.

Still, Jasmine’s strength to deal with the obstacles thrown in her path and the way she supports her little brothers are engrossing and encouraging for readers. Jasmine’s relationship with Royce is cute and fun to watch unfold, despite some problematic dynamics. The strong suit of SOMETHING IN BETWEEN, however, is educating readers on the complexities that illegal immigrants face in attempting to obtain legal resident status. Juxtaposing the point of view of a conservative congressman’s son along with Jasmine’s state of mind is a highly creative choice for Cruz, and well worth examining. Fans of Melissa de la Cruz’s other work will enjoy her new novel, and readers looking for a fluffy love story that also examines a deeper issue should read SOMETHING IN BETWEEN.

Reviewed by Janine Chouinard on September 28, 2016

Something in Between
by Melissa de la Cruz