This is my review of Dream Things True. Be sure to hang on for an interview with the author, a video clip, and a giveaway at the very end of the post.
Dream Things True is an important story about a topic that isn’t discussed nearly enough in YA. The characters feel extremely real and I think the book tells the reality of first love in a relatable way. There’s tons of stories that also talk about first love, but this one is different for a number of reasons. Marie Marquardt’s writing also flows in an easy and natural way. All in all, I’d say that it’s a decent debut Young Adult novel for her. It also makes me curious about what she’ll write about next.
The book is about Evan and Alma – two teenagers from two completely opposite worlds. Evan is a rather privileged soccer star who is also the nephew of a conservative senator. Alma immigrated to Georgia from Mexico when she and her brother were just kids and she’s worked hard in school and has dreams of maybe attending college. These two worlds collide as they fall in love. However, their courtship is halted rather abruptly when they get a rude awakening from Immigration and Customs Enforcement as they begin taking away Alma’s closest family and friends. As the days go on, Alma becomes more and more scared that her secret will come back to haunt her and her family.
The narration of Dream Things True is pretty unusual – it’s a close third person narration that alternates between the perspective of the two main characters Evan and Alma. I liked the characters but at the same time, it was hard to get inside of their heads completely. I would have preferred for the story to just be from Alma’s point of view because I believe it would have been more personal. However, this is still a creative method of narration that people might really enjoy and relate with.
I think this is an important book to read for those out there who may not know much about immigration. Marquardt really did her research about how the agency works. Her work with families who are about to be deported clearly influenced the accuracy of her writing and it shows through the story. I think there could have been more focus on the immigration aspect of things and maybe a little less of the Romeo and Juliet story but that’s just my point of view. Everyone has a different opinion and I do believe this is a book that lovers of Young Adult books should definitely pick up.
Interview with the author:
- I read about your current and previous experiences working with immigrants, what initially inspired you to get involved in this work?
After college, I went to graduate school with the hope of becoming a cultural anthropologist (Alma and I share that in common!). Because of interests that I had in social movements, I started research in immigrant communities – both observing and participating in various activities. Time passed, and I started spending more time with immigrant families. I realized it was tough to draw the line between “research” and “hanging out with friends”. I developed many lasting friendships during those years, and learned through my friends the sacrifice and struggle of deciding to come to the United States without documentation, and of trying to build a life here – especially for your kids. My focus began to shift from research to advocacy and service, and eventually (to my great surprise!) to writing fiction about these families’ struggles.
- Could you share one story of a family you’ve encountered over the years that was particularly heartbreaking for you?
Just one story? Well, 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 stole these words from a friend I have known since she was seven. I was speaking at an event to raise awareness about immigration policy issues. We invited my friend to speak about her own experience as an undocumented teen. She was in her senior year of high school, and she was (is!) an amazing actress and public speaker. Typically, she is very poised and articulate. On this day, 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 about what she faced, and how she felt like she had worked so hard, for nothing. Her talk brought many people (including me) to tears.
- You’re a college professor, what is it about writing young adult fiction that appealed to you?
No footnotes! As a college professor, I have done a lot of non-fiction writing about immigration. This time I wanted to tell the stories that I had witnessed through the eyes of love. Having the freedom to tell these stories in a more intimate way has been much more fun (and heartbreaking) for me. When I decided to write about the struggles of immigrant DREAMers, it simply made sense to write it for young adults. I love reading contemporary YA – there are so many great stories out there! So I thought I would give it a try.
- Despite coming from two different worlds, Evan and Alma fall in love. What’s your favorite love story about forbidden love? (Real or Fiction, besides Romeo and Juliet)
Absolutely, without any doubt, Jenny Downham’s You Against Me. I rarely re-read books, but this one I have read at least a dozen times. It is beautifully written, but what I most love about it is this: the story takes a very messy, complicated issue (acquaintance rape) and brings the reader into it through an intimate story. Two people whose lives have been upended by the same event are expected to hate each other, but they choose love instead. That’s powerful.
- Which character from Dream Things True would you say is the most like yourself and why?
Tough question! Alma and I definitely share some qualities (we are both super-driven, coffee-addicted nerds). But I also relate to Evan, who lives immersed in a world of Southern privilege, but who never feels fully a part of it.
DREAM THINGS TRUE: A Novel
By Marie Marquardt
St. Martin’s Griffin
On Sale: September 1, 2015
Hardcover: 978-1-250-07045-6 / $18.99
eBook: 978-1-466-88024-5 / $9.99
Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23848212-dream-things-true
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
“In this YA debut, immigration activist Marquardt knowledgably takes on the plight of undocumented families in the U.S. Readers seeking a star-crossed love story with a twist won’t be disappointed.” —Publishers Weekly
“Various aspects of undocumented immigration are explored: the economic factors influencing the decision to come to the United States, the often harrowing journey, the exploitation upon arrival, and the political factors that influence policy… [A] worthy examination of undocumented immigration in the American South through the lens of young love.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Marquardt provides a critical view of the stigmas and difficulties plaguing undocumented youth in U.S. schools without glossing over the legal realities of deportation and detainment.” —School Library Journal
“Marquardt’s Dream Things True vividly weaves to life the thrill of falling in love in the South while awakening readers to the struggles of US-Mexican immigration policies. In this touching coming-of-age story, full of hope and possibilities, Marquardt captures the bittersweet world of undocumented teens living in the US and the power of true love.”
—Malin Alegria, author of Estrella’s Quinceañera and the Border Town series
“Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt is a story that must be told and needs to be read. With sensitivity and care, Marquardt deftly illustrates the struggles and hopes of Alma, an undocumented teenager living in the United States. Alma’s story reflects the lives of millions of young people trapped between countries and cultures, longing for a place to belong. An important story that’s full of heart, it will forever change the way you view those who live their lives in the shadows.” —Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth About Alice
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
St. Martin’s Griffin
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/DTTBN
Google Play: http://bit.ly/DTTGooglePlay
Thanks to St. Martins Press for giving away one copy of Dream Things True! Be sure to enter the giveaway below.