Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt

Title: Dream Things True
Author: Marie Marquardt
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary Romance
Release date: September 1st, 2015
Pages: 352 (eGalley)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads | Amazon Author

A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils in their hostile Georgia town. 

Evan, a soccer star and the nephew of a conservative Southern Senator, has never wanted for much -- except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two-years-old, excels in school, and has a large, warm Mexican family. Never mind their differences, the two fall in love, and they fall hard. But when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town, Alma knows that she needs to tell Evan her secret. There's too much at stake. But how to tell her country-club boyfriend that she’s an undocumented immigrant? That her whole family and most of her friends live in the country without permission. What follows is a beautiful, nuanced, well-paced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives.

Alma has always worked hard for the things she has, especially her education.  When she returns to her hometown after spending two years at school in Atlanta, she takes a summer job with her father, working as a landscaper for the rich.  This is how she meets Evan, otherwise their paths may have never crossed.  He's attracted to her the instant he sees her and will do anything to have her in his life, although Alma knows that nothing more would ever come of it.  Her father tries to keep them apart, but they soon realize that they have much more to worry about.

As the story progresses, the reader is shown how Alma and Evan's upbringings differ.  While he has always had everything money can buy, yet lacks the love and closeness of family, Alma has always had to struggle for things, yet knows what it feels like to be cared for no matter what.  The fact that Spanish was used a lot in this book only added to Alma's story, although I can see how it could be a little confusing for those who aren't familiar with the language.  What I loved the most was Evan's willingness to learn, to open his mind to what is happening around them, unlike his Senator uncle, who is to blame for some of this.

When the unthinkable happens, Alma remains as strong as she can.  She does what she feels is best for her family, and although her relationship with Evan is a huge part of this story, she shows that it isn't the only part.  Being undocumented has always meant that they would have trouble with everything they do, from getting into school, finding work, travel, and even basic things that most sixteen-year-olds are able to do--get their driver's license.  Once the ICE begins to raid her town, pulling anyone who even looks like they might be an undocumented immigrant into detention centers, Alma realizes that nothing is safe.

Some aspects of this story may feel a little rushed, such as the romance and the way everything wrapped up, but I enjoyed reading from the perspective of someone very different from me.  I learned more about what actually happens to many families each day.  Although her parents only wanted a better life for their children, they're treated as if they're not just another human.  The author did a great job showing how society treats different races, which is a huge issue that we really need to work on.

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