Jasmine de los Santos, an overachieving 16-year-old immigrant from the Philippines, looks forward to a vibrant future, until she discovers a family secret that threatens to take away her American dream.
When Jasmine reveals to her family that she has been awarded a prestigious scholarship that will provide full tuition to the college of her choice, she learns that the family is undocumented; Jasmine cannot accept the award. She also realizes that the boy she’s falling for is the son of a congressman who is fighting against an immigration-reform bill that could change the lives of her family forever. Despite this setup, Jasmine is not a single-issue character. In addition to navigating her future newly aware of her immigration status, she also struggles with universal teen drama—friendships, first love, family pressures, etc. An immigrant herself, de la Cruz, succeeds in presenting a complicated and multifaceted topic in a manner that is light enough to keep readers engaged throughout the novel’s 300-plus pages. However, the neat-and-tidy conclusion, involving political connections and wealthy donors, may leave some readers believing that just by “being good enough” and “working hard,” the undocumented can magically overcome their circumstances regardless of the political climate or financial situation in which they find themselves.
Typical teen drama elevated by its exploration of a complex social issue but hampered by an unrealistically feel-good conclusion. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)