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Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz - Review

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Where did I get it? On NetGalley, so thank you to Harlequin UK

What's it about? Jasmine is Filipino, and a senior in high school who's just won a prestigious scholarship when her parents tell her that they're not in the United States legally - they are undocumented aliens. Jasmine can't accept the scholarship, and she now has to worry that her entire family will be deported from the place she calls home. 

Meanwhile, she meets a boy called Royce, who's dad is a congressman who is anti-immigrant. They start going out, but the course of their relationship doesn't run smoothly by any stretch of the imagination. 

The premise of this novel appealed to me a lot, but I didn't like it very much. There were a few reasons for this. Firstly, every little thing that could possibly be seen as different to mainstream American culture is explained as being "Filipino". Like, "That's what we do in our culture". While I believe that most of them were, I didn't think it needed spelling out. Readers will just accept that things are done differently in Jasmine's culture. Secondly, from the very first time Jas meets Royce, she falls madly for him. She meets him to start off with for literally about two minutes, but she LOVES him, she wants to be with him, et cetera. It's so unbelievable. Thirdly, there's far too much telling and not showing, almost like the author is racing through the narrative just to get to the end. 

I feel like the stories of undocumented people (I, like Jasmine, won't call them "illegals" because I don't believe human beings can ever be illegal) like Jas and her family are really important, but I didn't feel this novel lived up to the premise. 

What age range is it for? 13+, it's very tame
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No
Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, obviously Jasmine and her family, and a number of other characters too. In fact, most of the time it's pointed out to prove that most people in America aren't purely white. I actually liked this, I thought it was well done and sensitively. 
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No
Is there any sex stuff? No, Jasmine and Royce make out a couple of times but there's nothing graphic. 
Are drugs mentioned or used? I think marijuana maybe? But nothing stronger.  
Is there any talk of death? Very little
Are there swear words? Very infrequently. 
Would I recommend the book? Not really. I feel sure that there are better novels out there which tell stories like this one. 
How many stars? Four out of ten. 

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