Alma and Evan are teenagers living drastically different versions of the American dream in the southern United States.
Opportunity is handed to Evan. White, wealthy, and the nephew of a U.S. senator, he wants for little. However, appearances matter: the script of who he will become is written largely by what his family expects. Alma is an extremely bright student with plenty of potential, but as an undocumented immigrant, her options for life beyond high school are limited. As the unlikely pair falls in love, immigration authorities begin raiding their small Georgia town, arresting and deporting many people in Alma’s community—even her family. 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. However, the lack of nuance in the character development softens the power of the plot. In Evan’s world of privilege, the adults and young people alike are ethically challenged and image-obsessed. Meanwhile, Alma’s world is filled with suffering that it seems no amount of hard work or piety can overcome. Supporting characters fit neatly into the box of either “friend” or “foe.”
A flawed yet worthy examination of undocumented immigration in the American South through the lens of young love. (Fiction. 13-17)