Title: Dream Things True
Author: Marie Marquardt
Publication: September 1st 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: Advance Reading Copy
Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley
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.
I received a digital ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley for my participation in this blog tour. By no means have my review been affected and/or influenced.
Alma dreams of going to college and to study anthropology. It may be a simple dream for some, but for Alma, it’s too close to impossible because of her “status”. She and her family are illegal immigrants, or as her much preferred term, undocumented. Thus, applying for college isn’t really an option. In the small town of Georgia, most of the Mexicans earn a living as laborers. So, working for the sake of her family seems to be her future. But she doesn’t want to be stuck babysitting her cousins or pruning roses…
Evan is one of the privileged kids living in Georgia. He’s handsome, rich and nice. He also is the nephew of a Senator who seems to be after the undocumented immigrants like Alma.
Sparks flew instantly when the two of them meet in an “almost accident”. Yes, instantly. I was on alert for some insta-love here. There’s actually a hint of it in this book, a few chapters in and there’s an almost kiss already. BUT… the swoon that Alma keeps mentioning in this book made it’s way to me eventually.
Aside from the swoon, the book takes on the serious matter of immigration. I can really feel Alma’s hunger for freedom. It’s not like she’s in prison, but the thing is, she’s living a life limited of a lot of things. Her dreams are hindered by the fear of being deported. Through her, different voices of different people fighting for the same thing are heard.
Although, the narrative of this book didn’t get to me. It’s another book told in the 3rd person with alternating POVs. The sudden shifts between Alma and Evan’s POVs were a little confusing (just a little). I was also kind of distracted with the Spanish dialogues. Sorry, it’s just that I don’t speak Spanish and I only understand a few words. But I have to say, that added some character in the writing as a whole.
Not only is Dream Things True a modern day Romeo and Juliet, it is also the voice of those people like Alma. It was an eye-opening read about the reality of immigrants who only wants to make their dreams become true.
Aside from a review, I also got a chance to interview Ms. Marie where she shared a few more things you need to know beyond the book.
Tell us something about your upcoming novel, Dream Things True.
At its heart, Dream Things True is a story about the thrill and heartbreak of two people falling in love for the first time, in a world that wants to keep them apart.
What urged you to write a book about immigrants? What message did you want it to convey?
Because I’ve written non-fiction books about undocumented immigration, I often get asked to talk with groups of non-immigrants about these issues. I know a lot of facts and figures, and these help people think about immigration in new ways, but I find that what really matters is relationship – knowing and loving a person who faces these issues is what makes a person care. Not everyone gets the chance to know and love an undocumented immigrant, but fiction can give us all the opportunity to step into others’ lives – in this case, the lives of undocumented immigrants and the people who love them. This is powerful, and I believe it is so important – it helps us to overcome all of the politicized rhetoric, and simply see each other as human.
Are there parts in the book inspired by real life events?
Every piece of the story that deals directly with immigration is “true” – in the sense that it was happening during the time when the story is set, and I know people that experienced it. I have been working with undocumented immigrants in Georgia for almost two decades – first as a researcher and later in advocacy and service. I have developed close friendships with undocumented families, and I have had the remarkable opportunity to witness undocumented kids growing into accomplished young adults.
There’s a chapter in the book that starts with Alma, the protagonist, standing in front of a crowded room with a microphone and saying, “It sucks” – which is very out of character for her. I borrowed these words from a friend I have known since she was seven. She was facing graduation from high school in Georgia, followed by what felt like a whole lot of dead ends. She gave a very raw and honest talk on that day and brought many people (including me) to tears.
Which character from your book can you relate to the most, and why?
Like Alma, I was a very driven student, and I dreamed of becoming (of all things!) a cultural anthropologist. Like Evan, I sort-of lived in a world of Southern privilege, but I never felt at home there. Probably, as an adult, I can relate most closely to Alma’s middle school counselor and mentor, Mrs. King. I have worked with many undocumented teens and, like Alma’s counselor, I have experienced the pain and frustration of trying to help them overcome barriers, knowing that those barriers are almost insurmountable.
What’s the story behind the title of your book?
The title comes from Romeo and Juliet, which is appropriate, since Dream Things True is, in many ways, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story. I also chose to highlight dreams in the title because I see this story as a tribute to the extraordinary young adults who often refer to themselves as DREAMers. The DREAMers were brought to the United States as young children – usually by their parents. They don’t have permanent legal status, and under current laws, they have no way of getting it. I’ve had the honor of getting to know many DREAMers over the years. They are amazing young adults with incredible stories. This book captures a particularly dark moment in their history, but it also celebrates their remarkable resilience.
Marie Marquardt is a scholar-in-residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and the author of Living Illegal: The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration. She is widely published on issues of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. South. Marquardt has also worked as an advocate among immigrants in Atlanta. She is a founder and co-chair of El Refugio, a hospitality house near the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. Dream Things True is Marie’s first Young Adult novel.
Purchase Links for Dream Things True:
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Thanks for reading on this book review of Dream Things True and my interview with Ms. Marie! Now, you can Win (1) own copy of DREAM THINGS TRUE by Marie Marquardt
Open to US/Canada residents only.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing a copy to be given away!
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