Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz is a deeply emotional and relevant story about Jasmine de los Santos, who earns one of the most coveted college scholarships in the country, only to discover that her parents never told her that she and their entire family are undocumented immigrants.
Jasmine’s is a very real and difficult situation to be in, as evidenced by the stories that are coming to light more and more often in our world as the U.S. government un-apologetically targets immigrants, undocumented or otherwise.
I was immediately drawn into Jasmine’s world and her struggle to find a solution for her family while holding on to her dreams, her sanity, and the boy she’s falling in love with.
I love that the roller coaster of it all was so well-written. People who are in these situations experience a range of emotions, from sadness and anger and depression to determination and stubborn resolve. Those emotions not only affect them and their families, but their friends and support systems as well.
Jasmine is lucky enough to have family, friends, classmates, and teachers who are open and accepting of her, no matter what her status is. It’s a nice message–that sometimes, the fear that undocumented immigrants feel before revealing their status or asking for help is unnecessary. More people are sympathetic to the cause than they may expect.
As a character, Jasmine is a great balance of headstrong and as vulnerable and unsure as any of us would be when faced with so much outside of our control. I was a bit skeptical of Royce at first, because I wasn’t sure that he would provide a realistic portrayal of “the other side,” as it were.
Royce surprised me, though. He’s as flawed as you’d expect, but he didn’t make me cringe at every turn (especially considering that I went into this novel knowing whose side I’ve always been on in this human rights/political debate). He has just as much maturing to do as Jasmine does, and their relationship helps them both to do that, as rocky as it gets once in awhile.
This novel is even more proof that contemporary young adult novels should never be underestimated.