I was looking forward to Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz. Not only is it a diverse book but #ownvoices too. But I was left disappointed. The book centres on Jasmine, a high achieving student who finds out that she’s an illegal immigrant and soon struggles with her identity and place in the country.
Things I like:
- YA contemporary with PoC protagonist and biracial love interest – Royce (though I’m starting to see a pattern with white or biracial love interests who become something like white saviours in YA contemporaries with protags of migrant backgrounds)
- Jasmine is a top student but also a cheerleader?!! 🙂
- Jasmine’s family is everything. I love the strong bond between them
- A sweet romance (to an extent)
Things I didn’t like:
- The book makes light on racism and illegal immigration. I expected the opposite.
- Everything is so happy and convenient. Jasmine is privileged and has connections to people in power. It lowers the stakes and the reality of illegal immigration
- Royce’s dad is a politician who’s against illegals but changes his mind because of Jasmine?
- Royce’s brother is racist because he has daddy issues?
- Jasmine’s perception on Royce’s family as racists is just all in her head. Why is this book making excuses for racists?
- The book makes people who gained citizenship via marriage look bad and seen as “the only way” to stop deportation
- Jasmine’s characterisation is inconstant
- The book focuses way too much on romance rather than the actual plot which Jasmine and her family being illegals and fighting to stay in the country
- The romance felt forced and…uncomfortable. Jasmine and Royce are co-dependent with each other
- Jasmine feeling more love towards the US than her native Philippines. Okay, I get it. As a first-generation Australian, I struggle with this but I don’t shit on my parents’ country of origin.
- Jasmine saying that she has no memories of living in the Philippines…but she lived there until she was 9. What?
I didn’t expect Something in Between to be a full on YA contemporary romance – 90% instalove and 10% seriousness. The whole illegal immigration thing and Jasmine’s identity struggle wasn’t as invested as the blurb suggested.