I read this as an ebook, so I didn't pay much attention to the cover. Now that I'm seeing it, I'm puzzling over what it's meant to convey. I guess the stripes are about between the lines? And the flowers, are they from LA or the Philippines? Does this cover in any way convey that the book is about a girl who learns, in her senior year in high school, that her family is undocumented, and the future she dreamed of, which started with going to a top US college, is dashed?
The other books I've read of de la Cruz's have been paranormal--somewhat lightweight. Something in Between, published by Harlequin Teen, is a romance, but the girl gets-loses-gets-back boy is less important than girl's desire to secure US citizenship. Our heroine Jasmine de los Santos, is a super achiever--winning a prestigious academic award and captaining a cheerleading squad expected to make it to the nationals. She's been a good Filipina girl her whole life, studying hard and avoiding alcohol and boys, and prioritizing her family. In her words, "winning at the meritocracy is my American dream." Whoa. This is not the de la Cruz who writes about Upper East Side vampire intrigue!
Jasmine is thoughtful about how college, if she gets there, since as an undocumented immigrant from a working class family she is ineligible for aid and unable to afford school without it, will affect her relationship with her parents.
If I do go to college, my life will become even more different from [her mother's]. If I don't go, I know I'll never live up to her dreams for me. It seems like any path I take will lead us farther apart.
And yet, she finds herself in love with a rich white boy, the son of an anti-immigrant politician even. What's that going to do to her relationship with her parents?
You can see her back and forth with little images like "I don't know. [My parents' haven't said yes or no." I nervously switch my backpack to my other shoulder." The move of the backpack shows Jasmine experimenting with another way of doing things. Do you ever switch your backpack to the other shoulder? I never do. It seems like a small thing, but huge if you think about it.
The rich boyfriend's parents are willing to make an exception for "Royce's Jasmine." They know her; they know how smart she is and how hard she works. They know about Filipinas because they have a Filipina maid, for whom they intervened to extend her visa.
Jasmine understands that if Royce's dad, Congressmember Blakely, gets involved, she will be enjoying a privilege denied to millions of others in her situation. She still wants it, but she's mindful that others like her end up in detention centers. This is a teen romance, so seemingly light, but it deals with heavy issues, and de la Cruz reveals her own experience as a high achieving immigrant in her note at the end. I'm glad she wrote this bold book. I just wish the cover was designed to draw in kids who might see themselves in the story.
I like that each chapter starts with a quotation, usually (always) from an author, some--many?--all of them immigrants or children of immigrants.