Something in Between is Melissa de la Cruz‘s comeback to YA contemporary genre. It came out last week. You can now buy it wherever books are sold.
The story tackles the American dream of a teenager named Jasmine de los Santos. If you haven’t got the time to pick it up, Hollywood News Source listed five reasons why you should remedy that immediately. It is the perfect read just in time for Filipino American History Month.
Are you tired of the glaring absences of parental figures in YA books? There is a tight knit ensemble of family and friends in Something in Between. It’s particularly heartwarming because it weaves the rich family oriented culture of Filipinos. We hardly get to see that. You’ll get to know our foods and delicacies; how we have so many relatives that aren’t even biologically related to us, but we call them Lola (grandmother), Lolo (grandfather), Tita (Aunt), Tito (uncle) anyway. It’s pretty funny!
Melissa embedded complex teenage issues and didn’t brush it under the rugs. For example, girls getting insecure of each other; and the amazing thing is you could see the girls making up. Girls owning up to their mistakes.
Another thing that strikes me about Something in Between is how being an undocumented immigrant didn’t make Jasmine a social pariah; instead she received overwhelming support from her peers that are her cheerleaders. This is how you write diversity. You give them a great support system, that’s our reality as well.
female character that goes after what she wants
The protagonist of the story Jasmine is a high achiever that isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, and that is her American dream. She pursued her ambition despite the threat of getting deported, a threat that haunted her and her family.
The main character’s path to self-discovery would make you tear up. This particular part continues to stir my soul:
“I know I’m always telling you to stop putting yourself down,”I tell him.
“But I was guilty of the same thing. I put myself down. I convinced myself everyone else was the one doing it, that it was your family that was judging me, that you were judging me, but I was the one who found me and my family lacking. I was the one who was embarrassed to be who I was, embarrassed about where I came from….I was embarrassed that I was embarrassed, if you know what I mean. I hated that I felt that way about myself. I work so hard to hold my head up, to be proud of my culture, my background, my history. I would never change my skin color, the shape of my eyes, or the color of my hair, but inside, I was worse than anyone out there who calls me a chink, or a FOB.”
the true American dream
Something in Between is a book that isn’t devoid of colors. It is the political book that didn’t alienate people of colors and our existence in US history. Jasmine’s story tackled hard-hitting topics such as racial identity, harmful stereotypes, oppression immigrants experience on a daily basis. It also examines the privilege, and what is it like to be a minority in the US.
While the 1 to 4 reasons I listed are very noble, I would still say the romance is one of the finest things about it.
“You don’t have to deserve love, you just get it.”
The love interest, Royce Blakely isn’t your standard YA boyfriend. He’s a dyslexic, biracial Mexican-American boy. His characterization instantly grabbed me. I love it when I get to read male characters who have vulnerabilities within them. He’s quite a loner, who puts a lot of time studying with his tutors, he’s determined to prove he is worth more than his family’s reputation.
The romance is everything.
After Jasmine met Royce, the charming, wealthy son. The attraction is already flying up in the sky. It is the teenage-fumbling romance between two multicultural high schoolers. It’s a little bit of whirlwind insta-love romance, but I like how the story gradually builds up their relationship. There is the understandable insecurity and hesitation, because they come from different backgrounds, because some relationships take some time to get there.
And, at the end of the day, they provided familiarity and comfort to each other. Their relationship is about more than simply abolishing the platitude that two people who come from opposite upbringings can’t be together. That is profound and beautiful.