Title: Something In Between
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: MIRA Ink (Harlequin Teen UK)
Release Date: Oct 6th, 2016
From the No.1 New York Times bestselling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages comes a thought-provoking and timely novel about immigration, family, friendship, and finding out where you belong.
Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud, and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.
And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all, and the very real threat of deportation. But Jasmine won’t give up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.
Jasmine de los Santos is a model citizen, an honour-roll student, and a perfect daughter. She wins a National Scholar Award – something that only a select few students from all over the US are able to achieve. With this scholarship and her more than perfect grades, Jasmine is on her way to fulfill her own American Dream. Seemingly her life cannot get any better. Then her parents pull the rug out from under her. Jasmine learns that she and her family have been living in the country illegally for the past several years. Suddenly everything that has been so close to her is out of her reach. Jasmine begins struggling with school, the unjust laws that mark her family as criminals, and her own sense of belonging.
Something In Between has been an anticipated read for me ever since I heard of it. I’ve only read one other book by Melissa de la Cruz and sadly, it did not manage to impress me. I was a little hesitant at first, for this very reason, but I knew I had to read this book regardless. Jasmine’s story is important to be read and understood, as it is shared by many (unfortunately). While I had my issues with certain aspects, I found the overall story to be profound and moving.
Something In Between’s narrative is told in first person through the eyes of our protagonist, Jasmine. We get to experience every struggle and every moment of joy along with her. Jasmine’s voice is compelling and easy to follow, but at certain times the writing style gets a little grated and unrealistic. That, thankfully, goes away as the plot progresses and things begin to flow smoothly.
Jasmine de los Santos is someone we should all aspire to be. She is a strong-willed, hard-working young adult that does not let her situation bring her down. Still, she is allowed to be weak and grieving at times, which some people might take as being whiny and immature. Truth is, Jasmine is a teenager who is forced to deal with things no person should be dealing with, let alone someone her age. She’s felt the pressure to be perfect her whole life, and she’s always strived for the top in order to make her parents proud, that when all that is taken away from her, she feels lost. However, she does not let any of that bring her down, instead Jasmine decides she needs to fight for her family, for everything they’ve achieved since moving to America from the Philippines, and most of all, for herself. Her love for her family and her determination are things to be admired. I enjoyed the rest of the cast almost as much, they all felt multi-dimensional and realistic, but Jasmine is the shining star of this book.
The only other thing I took an issue with, aside from parts of the writing style, was the romance. Don’t get me wrong, Jasmine and Royce are adorable and they grew on me as a couple over the course of the novel, but I just feel like their relationship was rushed. They meet, they fall in love just like that, and suddenly they’re having all these lovers’ quarrels. It was not quite insta-love, but they were not give enough time to develop before the “true love” stage came along. What I enjoyed about them is how they matured over time and by the end of the novel, they were not as annoying to me as they were in the beginning.
Overall, this book is an significantly important read. Don’t be fooled by its cute cover, the story inside is profound and heavy, and requires a clear, open mind. (And I really liked that there were discussion questions in the end!) While the writing style is not the most spectacular, the story and characters drive this book straight into the reader’s. I recommend Something In Between to everyone, and I suggest taking your time reading it.