Important Topic But…: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

28688476

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?

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.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

Source: GoodReads

I’ve outgrown Melissa de la Cruz’s books.  It’s a sad fact.  At some point I plan to reread the Blue Bloods books, but I feel like it is going to be a sea of disappointment and embarrassment that I ever liked her stuff.  Still, she writes really good premises and I find myself ridiculously attracted to her blurbs.  Like this one.

But still, it sat on my shelf for awhile.  However, after the God awful month of executive orders that the Trump administration has thrown on us I have been wanting to read more issue relevant books.

And I did remember liking Melissa’s Fresh Off the Boat, I at least remember thinking that book had more heart to it than some of her frothier rich people novels-not that some of those can be okay, they just get very stale after awhile.

The thing is, that Something In Between didn’t have that realness quality about it, even though it dealt with some topics that were very near and dear to Melissa’s own personal life.

I got to say, the romance was cringe worthy and completely unrealistic.  Jas and Royce fall ridiculously in love within a couple of pages of looks and text messages.  It make Skyjack (Jack/Schuyler from Blue Bloods ) look more realistic and in hindsight that pairing was illy paced, but to its credit it was a paranormal romance.  Here though, other than he’s handsome/she’s hot I didn’t get the attraction.  Maybe because both of these characters came off as bland.  Like Cinderella and Prince Charming Disney movie bland.

I often think it’s harder to write a contemporary than a paranormal or fantasy novel, because the characters are often the focus of the novel.  Unless it’s bitchy blonde vampire socialites, I always think Melissa’s characters suffer from vapidness and this book was no exception to that.  I honestly did not get how Jas won this big scholarship.  She doesn’t come off as particularly smart or driven, and while she did do some cheerleading she didn’t really have the sort of resume that most Ivy bound kids have.  Royce was even duller than Jas, I can’t even remember if he had a hobby outside of sending really embarrassing texts to his girlfriend and then getting his Paul Ryan Wannabe father go against his core conservative values.

dva7ab52abgfa

And that had me roll my eyes and just seethe with anger.  I am already not a huge fan of the Republican party-in fact, I’d say right now I have no tolerance for what they’re preaching at least before the tea party and the racist party of Trump, I could at least sort of get where they’re coming from in the Bush era  but that’s besides the  point.  Here, seeing Royce’s asshole of a congressman make an exception for one family had me rolling my eyes.

And yes, I did vaguely recall reading about private bills very briefly in the Immigration Law course I took 2L year, but I also remember hearing that they hardly ever happen and other than being briefly mentioned we didn’t discuss them hardly any.  Instead, we talked a lot about work visas and I find it difficult to believe that Jas’s working class family would even acquire a visa in the first place.

Unskilled workers have the burnt end of the deal immigration wise, and this book didn’t seem to even discuss that.  Yes, I understand that Ms. de la Cruz is not a lawyer and that it’s possible in her own case that her family could’ve gotten in on such visas-but it doesn’t happen that often.   Part of the reason why is in order to get a work visa the company has to show that there are no qualified American workers.  Sort of hard to do with an unskilled job.

And then there was that farce of a court hearing…I’m not even going to talk about it.

And while I think there was some work into looking up the immigration process I don’t think it encompassed a lot of the issues on a whole of what is going on.  About how broken the process is-and it’s even more fucked up now, for obvious reasons most involving a big fat Orange Boob.

Look, I can’t fault Ms. de la Cruz too much on the legalities.  Immigration law itself is a beast, and there’s a lot of reasons why attorneys don’t practice it.  And even very seasoned lawyers can’t figure out some of the nuances involving the process-and I’m quoting some lecturer on an online CLE I took a couple of weeks ago almost verbatim on that one.

I just don’t know, having this conservative congressman who is described as being an asshole towards immigrants for a big chunk of the book being Jas’s savior  rubs me the wrong way.  Why is it okay for her to have a private bill while the congressman roots for legislation to harm constant others in her position?  I just didn’t like this congressman and wanted to go to a town hall to tell him what a hypocrite he was and that even though Jas situation was awful and she deserved help all the other undocumented immigrants in his district deserved to be treated like real people and not criminals.  He doesn’t even have a come to Jesus moment in the book and realizes that his hardline stanch is that of an asshole.

But I digress..

If you can look past the hypocrisy and the cringe worthy romance, this one is readable.  That is one thing I will always give de la Cruz, her stuff is readable.  But God there’s so much cringe and hypocrisy that I did close it a couple of times throughout reading it just to rant.  The immigration stuff while researched (enough) isn’t fully researched in some aspects.

The parts that rang truest about the book were the brief insights we got into Filipino culture, but those for the most part were very brief.

Overall Rating: A C

 

 

 

Advertisements

Contrived: The SUn is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Source: GoodReads

I think Nicola Yoon’s stuff is overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, I found Everything, Everything to be okay but it was contrived.  The Sun is Also a Star is even more contrived than her previous efforts (though it probably didn’t help that I skipped to the end and wasn’t impressed at all with how things resolved themselves.

I think the thing that was supposed to be innovative about this one is its style.  And I’ll give it this, I did like the style.  Though I hardly found it unique or innovative.  Side character POVs aren’t exactly a new thing.  So that really didn’t give it any sort of leg up.

The overall story arc is pretty weak.  I did like that both characters were from diverse backgrounds though, Ill give it that.  But the thing is, maybe it’s being an attorney who has actually taken an Immigration law course and dealt with some immigration cases I knew how the book was probably going to end before it started AND when Natasha just showed up at the UCIS office, I just shook my head knowing that this was not going to end well.

There’s not a lot of twists you can thrown in when you decide to deal with immigration law, and actually go through the motions of stating that they exhausted all of their options.

Yeah, sort of makes the story suck.

And God knows, I wish Natasha was a little bit more of a compassionate character than she was.  From the pages that I read, I really didn’t like or care for her.  She was hateful and seemed to blame everyone for her situation.  Plus,  I still couldn’t get over the fact she went to the UCIS alone as a minor.    Or that she actually thought she had a chance after the appeal options had been exhausted.  And the fact she was bemoaning over the fact that she wasn’t able to use that stolen SSN her mom got her.

Yeah, identity theft is really going to endear me to a character.

And yes, I know she’s undocumented and has to deal with some terrible shit that’s not her fault.  But come on, you’re talking about stealing someone’s social security number.  That is so wrong.

Daniel, the love interest, was just as whiney in a lot of ways.  But I sort of got where he was coming from more.  Again, he hadn’t exactly been exploited that much in narration so maybe I would’ve hated him had I continued.

Again, I don’t think The Sun is Also a Star is the worst book I’ve ever read, but it was blase and something I honestly didn’t want to finish it which is why I DNF’d it.

Another DNF-Joy: Joyride by Anna Banks

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

Source: GoodReads

Another DNF!

Party time.

I really hate DNF-ing things.  I think I’ve discussed this several times already.  But man, I really wanted to love this book.

The premises looks like it’s going to discuss a really divisive issue-immigration.  God knows there needs to be a few books that discuss it especially YA books.  Immigration issues are not only a US issue but a world issue, and I was excited to read a book that was going to discuss them in such a way that would be applicable to real life (full disclosure: I studied and did a little work in Immigration law).

Skip this book.  It is a cliche.

So much that after a whopping sixty pages I DNF the book.

The book more or less was another YA cliche romance where The Mouse (female protagonist) falls in love with Mr. Tarnished Golden Boy (male protagonist) and each of them help deal with their various real life melodrama.

Barf.

The thing is, had the book been less of a cliche, I would have enjoyed it more.   The premises made it look like it was going to be more about the characters’ personal struggles than their romance.  But as soon as Arden set his eyes on Carly he was like-damn, she is a fine piece of spunky ass and all of his problems were secondary.  Much like with Carly, I didn’t really feel her dilemma becuase her focus was more on her relationship with Arden.

The structure of this novel is off putting.  It is duel points of view, which I have no problem with, but what made it confusing was that one point of view was written in first while the other was in third.  This made reading the book jarring and honestly I couldn’t connect as much with Arden since his part of the story was in third and it was a distant third at best.

This actually saddens me, because I would like a really powerful book about this subject matter especially with the harsh, xenophobic attitudes that certain people seem to exhibit these days.  There are so many different problems and issues that immigrants face, and so many issues that people who aren’t immigrants do not know about (just see a Trump rally, if you need an example if you need any other proof of ignorance).  Unfortuantely, this is not the book.

Overall Rating: A DNF.  The writing itself wasn’t the best and it just made me even more displease to see what could be an interesting and relevant topic to explore be condemned to YA cliche-ness.