Book Review: Something in Between – Melissa de la Cruz

something-in-between-book-review-melissa-de-la-cruz

Title: Something in Between (2016)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 384 pages
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

Review

Somewhere in Between was originally on my TBR because of its very cute, summery cover, but once I read the blurb I knew I had to fast-track it. This book surprised me with its unexpected depth and exploration of very relevant issues! In a way, it kind of reminds me of Randa Abdel-Fattah’s When Michael Met Mina, though both books deal with the immigrant story in very, very different ways.

This is the story of Jasmine de los Santos, who moved to the USA with her Filipino family when she was little. After receiving a presidential scholarship, she discovers that her entire family has been there illegally — their visas expired years ago, and they never got a green card. To complicate matters, she’s also falling for Royce, a private school rich boy with a congressman father whose bill essentially goes against Jasmine and her family.

I wasn’t considered an American, I lost sight of who I was. I thought a piece of paper defined me, that I was a different person, lesser. But throughout this entire year, I’ve found out that who I was never changed. I let what the law said about me — that I did, as a human being, was illegal, that I didn’t belong in the place I’d always known as my own home-change my own perception of who I am.

This is an incredibly important book, one that’s especially relevant today because of the themes it explores: family, migration, immigration, belonging, identity, politics, the divide between the rich and the poor. I have never been in Jasmine’s situation or struggled with my identity in her specific way, but I found her story really relatable.

De la Cruz’s writing was a little bit too simplistic for my liking, but her voice was incredibly authentic. Her story of a Filipino family rang true to me and impacted me quite a few times — I loved the portrayal of Jasmine’s parents, who were typical Asian parents but with that extra depth to them; their extended family in the Philippines, even if they didn’t make an on-page appearance; the pressure Jasmine felt from being the firstborn in an immigrant family.

My brothers and I are very different though. […] Since I’m the oldest, I’ve always felt more pressure to be successful. I have to show them the way. And I also have to act like a bridge between them and my parents. Danny and Isko are pretty much 100 percent American. It’s as if my parents are first-generation immigrants and they’re second generation. But I’m stuck somewhere between both of them, trying to figure out how to help them understand each other.

I really only had one major problem with this book: the romance. There was a little bit of an insta-love going on between Jasmine and Royce, especially at first, and Royce in particular took a long time to grow on me. I also feel like the romance could’ve taken a bit of a backseat, mostly because there were other things that needed to be explored. I enjoyed the romance nearing the end, but for the majority of the book, I just didn’t really care for it. It is, however, an interracial-romance (Royce is half-Mexican, half-white), so props for that.

Overall, Something in Between is an enjoyable read, one that surprised me with its exploration of relevant issues. The issues are likely more directly applicable to the current US political climate, but regardless of where you live or where you come from, if you’re looking for a story that both makes you think but also entertains, you need not look further than this one.

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33 thoughts on “Book Review: Something in Between – Melissa de la Cruz

  1. Oh wow, this sounds really good. I’m completely guilty of judging the book by it’s cover. Whenever I’ve been seeing this around, I just kind of thought that it was another one of ‘those’ books. You know, where theres not really a plot other than a lot of angst and falling in love (which can be good sometimes). It sounds like it could be really meaningful though, I’ll go check it out on goodreads!
    Fleur @ FranklyBooks just posted ABSOLUTELY FLABBERGASTED | THE DIABOLIC BY S.J. KINCAID

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  2. Some of my favorite books are books that really make me think, so this sounds right up my alley in that regard. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

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  3. As soon as I read the blurb, I thought of When Michael Met Mina, too! But it’s interesting that they are different, despite having similar themes. I’m so glad there’s books dealing with these topics given everything that’s been going on this year worldwide. Great review as always Reg. And that graphic with the cover is gorgeous 😍

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  4. I felt the same about the writing and the insta love, I feel like everyone should read it to read about the immigration side of it but I wish the writing and romance were better because I feel like some people won’t enjoy it because of that and pay less attention to the important parts

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  5. Great review, Reg! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this book so much! I have read a couple of books by the author before – I think it was the Blue Bloods series? A long time ago, ahah, and I thought that one was just kind of a, well, fluffy book of sorts. I’m glad that’s not entirely the case and that it made you think just as well. Might need to read it sometime 🙂

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  6. It’s good to hear that you enjoyed this despite having problems with the romance and such. I’m definitely not a fan of instalove either but I really want to read this. I’ve read a few of the author’s previous books and loved them. In fact, I think this one is her first venture into contemporary. Either that or I’ve just missed everything aside from her fantasy books 🙈. All of that aside this does sound like a fantastic and important book. Great review, Reg! 😊

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  7. Great review for this book Reg. I still have When Michael Met Mina on my to-read list but I’ll definitely be adding this one as well. I can see where you’re coming from about books like these, that deal with these issues, being important now with what’s going on.
    Also I get where you’re coming from with the romance angle, and not just the kind of insta-love side in the beginning. There are a few books I’ve read recently where I’ve just through the romance was an unimportant aspect, and the story would have been just as strong if the two characters remained friends rather than falling in love. Not sure if that is the case with this book as well but it’s just something I’ve been thinking of recently.
    Anyways, great review, I’m glad to see you enjoyed this book as well. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Beth! I’m glad you could relate – the issues are definitely worth thinking about, but the romance just isn’t on-point enough to add to the story.

      Overall I’d still recommend it though – I feel like this is one of those books that could stand out bc not many like it are out there, but maybe it’ll fade into the background the more we get books that deal with migration and all things related. 🤔

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  8. Thank you for this review, Reg! I recall the discussions around this book some time back, which compelled me to read it. Unfortunately I’m still waiting for my copy at the library to make its way to me! but your review makes me more excited.

    The quote you included about being the bridge between parents and siblings is so profound. I have one little sister, and I really relate to being ‘that bridge’. Sometimes I feel like I am my sister’s third parent (not because my parents are inept in anyway, but I understand *her* perspectives and have to articulate my parents’ perspectives in a way that is understandable to her).

    I feel like I will really enjoy Something in Between. And if it’s great, I’m going to rec the heck out of it to my Filipino friends. ❤

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    • Thanks for the comment, CW! I really hope you get the chance to read this book soon – while it has some flaws, I still feel like it’s an important book that’s really worth reading. 💞

      And I’m glad to hear that the quote resonated with you! I’ve never had the same issue, but I didn’t really ‘migrate’ until I’m in my teens, and I kind of migrated alone, so in a weird way I suppose I’m the first-gen immigrant! It’s cool what you do for your sister, though. Is she a lot younger than you are? 😊

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  9. I love how you included quotes in your review! The relatable family and political aspects do shine through – I’m so glad that you reviewed this one =) I definitely need to read When Michael Met Mina at some point too because these books are so important.

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