The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

Posted March 17, 2014 by shooting in Uncategorized / 16 Comments

The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

Review by Lauren

copy for book tour, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant. But it’s harder to hide now that M.T.’s a senior. Her school’s National Honor Society wants her to plan their trip abroad, her best friend won’t stop bugging her to get her driver’s license, and all everyone talks about is where they want to go to college. M.T. is pretty sure she can’t go to college, and with high school ending and her family life unraveling, she’s staring down a future that just seems empty. In the end, M.T. will need to trust herself and others to stake a claim in the life that she wants.

Review: If you live in the United States, you have probably heard a lot about illegal immigrants. Maybe you have a set opinion on the topic, but perhaps you do not. In either case, I would definitely recommend The Secret Side of Empty. It gives you a “personal” look into what it’s like to be the illegal immigrant that everyone seems to have an opinion about. What really adds authenticity to this story is that Maria E. Andreu used to be an illegal immigrant herself, and is now a documented citizen of the United States. Therefore, it’s easy to feel that M.T.’s emotions are real.

There is more to M.T.’s life than her lack of citizenship, though everything ultimately revolves around that. She can’t report her abusive dad for fear of being sent out of the country. She can’t get too close to a guy without thinking of their impossible future. She can’t leave the country with her National Honor Society, even though she has high grades and would love to go. She can’t apply to colleges with her best friend, Chelsea, because she knows none of them would let her in.

Despite all of M.T.’s hardships, she tries to live the life she wants by getting out of the house and engaging in the things her peers are doing, like going to parties or dating boys. I like that the book draws you into M.T.’s life and shows how strong of a person she is, so that when things begin to unravel for her, it’s easy to empathize and wonder how anything will work out.

I felt the overall story was realistic. I might not know a lot about being an illegal immigrant, but the emotions of everyone concerned felt real and the world M.T. lived in was believable. I didn’t always agree with the way she treated people or how she reacted to things, but it’s easier to understand when you try and put yourself in her shoes. Here is a girl who sees no future, so it’s hard for her to imagine the people in her life ever sticking around.

While you may be thinking this is a depressing novel, it really isn’t. There are humorous and hopeful moments throughout. I would definitely recommend.

16 responses to “The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

  1. Oh wow I can honestly say that I have never read a book on this topic! I wouldn't have picked this one up on the cover alone but I am so intrigued after reading your review. All the things she has to deal with because of her citizenship would be so hard for a young girl. Great review and thanks for bringing this book to my attention!

  2. Hmm I haven't heard of this and I would be interested to read it. I lived in Phoenix for ten years so I am very familiar with this topic and I had friends who were illegal, it is tough but I can see both sides.

  3. While I have an idea that immigrants are big problem for US I have never read a book that deals with it. This one seems really good. I love that it was realistic and mostly emotional. Great review, Lauren 🙂

  4. I'm liking all these different books you're introducing me to Lauren! I don't think this book would be something that I would normally go for, but the realism and humour that the author has incorporated, I find highly appealing! Fab review as always!

  5. This sounds like a thought-provoking story. I grew up in Texas so this issue is definitely a familiar one, and it would be lovely to get such a personal perspective. Wonderful review!

  6. Wow this sounds like a really deep story! Illegal immigrants are really controversial here and while I don't have an opinion right now on them, it definitely sounds like it'd be such a struggle to earn citizenship and maintain a normal life. Glad you liked this one, fantastic review! <33

  7. Every time I listen to the news I feel very fortunate to have been born in the US. To somehow think this makes me better than someone born in a less fortunate country is a very negative viewpoint, IMO. I feel sorry for people who are here without malice, because they want to have a better life and struggle to adjust to the culture, language or to just fit in. I try and put myself in their place. This sounds very realistic and I hope all worked out for this girl. Great review, Lauren! 🙂

  8. American apple-pie life, blondish hair and pale skin ……. Grief, I already hate M.T.

    Seriously though I love that this book rings true, that the emotions of the characters feel real.

  9. Wow, I was just listening to a story on the radio about a girl in a similar situation the other day. It's such an important issue to consider, regardless of which side of the immigrant debate you're on. I like how the book helps to humanize such a hot button topic.

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