It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?
Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.
And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.
For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.
Don’t want to read the whole review? Click to jump to the Skinny Review.
I honestly don’t know how to review this book. When I finished listening to the audiobook, I was hit with homesickness. If you don’t know already, I am an immigrant (now a US citizen) and I am Filipino, so this book really hit home for me.
Coincidentally, my turn for the library cue came a few days before the US Presidential Election, which I thought was very appropriate. I had to read this. In fact, I finished listening to the audiobook on election day.
I admit to not reading a lot of YA contemporary romance but I HAD to read Something in Between because it is about immigration, and of course, my culture. I was also curious as to how Melissa de la Cruz will use our culture since she is also a Filipino. #OwnVoices
Characters (the quirky kind)
Let’s start with the characters. I absolutely LOVE all the characters. Most especially, the quirky side characters. De la Cruz really did a good job in picking which Filipino traits to adapt for her characters. I literally laughed every time Lola Cherry spoke! I mean, she could be MY own grandmother! I also loved that she mentioned (in passing) a Tita Baby and a Tito Boy because I think every Filipino family has one! haha
Jasmine’s parents are also fun and very realistic. Especially when Mommy starts cooking because she is depressed *wink. Also having to work hard in school and being strict. Seriously. My father NEVER lets me miss a day in school unless I was halfway to my grave (exaggeration), and of course, do well in school.
I’m not sure about the main characters, though. I’m not sure Jasmine acted like someone who was eighteen. Royce was too good to be true, honestly.
Then there were the names
The character names were appropriate! Ah! There’s Danny (Danilo), Isko (Francisco), Cherry, Angelo (Daddy), okay I can’t remember Mommy’s name right now but anyway, they are so Filipino, I LOVE IT!
Plus the nickname Neneng.
What I loved about Something in Between is that it gives you a picture of the Filipino culture. Since Melissa de la Cruz is Filipino, she was able to add a lot of Filipino things that normally aren’t obvious to non-Filipinos. The little nuances that a lot of Filipino’s do day to day are very obvious to me, which is something that I really appreciate.
The book wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Filipino food, though. And you WILL NOT be disappointed! Not only is the common lumpia and adobo mentioned but other food as well. This book actually made me crave adobo (when I just had some a few days ago)!
I have actually read a book where the main character is half Filipino and half American but that’s it. Since the author isn’t Filipino, she wasn’t able to add a lot of the culture.
Family is very important with Filipinos and I love that Something in Between shows it. When Jasmine and her family are confronted with the fear of getting deported, they naturally band together and hope for the best (which is something Filipinos do, actually).
I would also like to point out her parents encouraging Jasmine to do well in school and apply to colleges even though they knew they were undocumented IS a Filipino thing.
I’m not a fan of YA contemporary romance so I usually don’t read a lot of books in this genre. This also made me hesitant to read this book.
And I was right. Jasmine is eighteen but she sounds more like a fifteen-year-old (ish). I totally get the conservative and traditional family that Jasmine BUT she’s EIGHTEEN now. She should not be THAT innocent. I don’t remember me being too innocent at that age and I didn’t grow up here in America! (ahem *wink)
Yeah, the romance was a little cheesy and maybe not so believable? I mean, Royce is just too good to be true (see above)
This book is also full of positive friendships for Jasmine. Although there were parts of female envy and drama, the book didn’t focus on that. Friendship in this book is very important and positive especially when Jasmine confessed her situation to her Cheer squad, where she was team captain.
There was also a lot of diversity in this book. Jasmine actually has a diverse set of friends who support her through her problems. And Royce is part Latino.
As an immigrant here in the US, this topic is very dear to my heart, which is why I wanted to read this book. Something in Between shows the real struggles of undocumented people, who are desperate to find a way to stay. As someone who came to the United States legally, I personally didn’t experience the things that Jasmine and her family had to go through, but I have heard stories.
Audiobook (and the Filipino accent)
I was tickled when I listened to the audiobook. In fact, I DID NOT expect the author to use a Filipino accent when Jasmine’s father and mother and Lola Cherry were speaking. I thought she was very believable 90% of the time, which is pretty good IMHO. Of course, there were parts that felt a little odd to my ears.
I was also listening to the audiobook without the use of headphones, so when my mom passed by my room, she stopped and said, “Oh, Pilipino man lagi na!” (Oh, that’s Filipino!) So, kudos to Cassie Simone for her awesome, awesome job.
I’m not sure if the accent she used will be distracting to others, but it really worked well for me and I was able to follow through with no problems at all. I also think that it added to the overall feel of the book.
Although the storyline was very predictable, I think de la Cruz did a fantastic job in executing the story and showing not only the Filipino culture but the current issues with immigration, even though I think that there were some scenes that needed to be cut. It helps that I listened to the audiobook version which actually helped through the more boring parts.
I would also like to mention that the setting of the book, which mostly occurs in Chatsworth, which is practically my neighborhood. It took me about 65% in to realize that. LOL #facepalm
This is a must-read, not only for Filipinos but for anyone who would love to know more about the Filipino culture and immigration, family, and friendship.
Books like Something in Between (sort of)
I read The Language of Love by Kate Emburg when I was in high school (see the 90s clothing on the book cover?). At that time, this was the very first book I read with diverse characters – and Filipino to boot! It has been a number (whooaaah) of years since I read this book and from what I can remember, the main character Leanna is half Filipino and half American who grew up with her American mom and American step-dad. She meets a Filipino boy at a fair and they start to fall in love.
Have you read this book already? What do you think?
If you are Filipino (or even a quarter ounce of Filipino blood or have Filipino friends) and have read this book, what do you feel about how the Filipino culture was written?