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.
I received an eARC copy of this book courtesy of Mira Ink via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A+ for effort, a good C- for everything else though…
Yes, this is going to be unpopular opinion time, no I am not going to change my mind about this novel at present, maybe at some point in the future if/when I decide to re-read it and give it another go. This is largely my own opinion, I do know that the vast majority of people disagree with me, however I do reserve the right to state my opinion in my review as I am obliged to not lie.
I honestly feel like Eugene, whilst everyone else is Rapunzel… There were just a number of reasons why this book really did NOT work for me in the slightest.
But okay, let me start of with the good things – the plot had potential. The political parts were so interesting, and I found that they reflected the reality of the American political system brilliantly, I thought that the author did a brilliant job in writing this into the story, and found that it was a quite interesting topic to base a book on; especially given the current elections and the candidates in it…
The writing itself was easy to get into and I think it was largely what made the book good enough to finish, because honestly, if the writing style was anything than de la Cruz’s familiar style, I would have noped it out of there in a blink.
I also have to say that I did feel for Jasmine, she honestly didn’t deserve the situation she was placed in, and I really wouldn’t wish a similar situation upon anyone, especially given the negative impacts which it had on her mental health – no one deserves to have a legitimate identity crisis over a messed up political system, and I cannot be the only one who thinks that way.
However, the book did outright piss me off enough to throw my phone and Kindle down upon several occasions, and I really cannot look past that.
Why on earth was there even a love story? The plot did NOT benefit from it in the slightest, what more, why, just why did it have to be insta-love??
While, okay, they did make a quite cute couple, they were also an annoying one. They had the whole “on and off” thing going for the entire novel. And who meets someone, exchanges phone numbers as normal , AND THEN SUDDENLY THE NEXT TIME THEY SEE EACH OTHER THEY’RE ALL OVER EACH OTHER… Why and how did that even happen?
I also thought that they were irresponsible, I mean, I could accept the dating thing, but no one in their sane minds decided to marry WHILST STILL AT SCHOOL… I honestly doubt any guy in modern day high school would decide to marry his on-and-off girlfriend (with whom he clearly shares some trust issues) just to try to keep her in this country, I thought I was going to scream when I read that part of the novel. It was just stupid and dumb and I couldn’t deal with it, my friends had to take my phone away because I thought I was going to break it. Luckily, that situation resolved itself, but I honestly thought I was going to explode with fury over what they were doing.
Jasmine herself was a painfully flat and average heroine, which also leads me onto my next point, but before I do – I can assure you that I really do not think she was deserving of the scholarship she received, not because she was an immigrant or there illegally, but because I know for certain that there are people out there working part-time, doing more extra-curricular activities than just cheerleading, with a perfect GPA (which Jasmine surprisingly didn’t have?), plenty of hours of volunteering on their resume, as well as a chosen career path (I mean, okay, it’s pretty normal to not know what one wants to do with their life, but you’d sort of expect a “high achiever” like Jasmine to at least have an idea of it) who would not be able to receive the scholarship, or the Stanford offer that Jasmine received, because times have greatly changed and it is now harder than ever to get into a semi-decent university and it seems like the author completely brushed past that fact as though it didn’t exist. I think that knowledge and facts on that part of the story could have been better researched…
So I think the next point doesn’t come as a huge surprise: this book had more happy coincidences than a Disney movie; which also annoyed me because whilst I know that the author was probably trying her best to put a positive spin on an awful situation, there’s just no way that some of these things would have happened; from her undocumented mother being able to get another job “just like that” with no questions asked to her little brothers somehow not hearing the screaming match that went down over the green cards (while they were still in their rather small house) and staying oblivious to the whole situation…. The whole book just seemed to be filled with things that most probably wouldn’t be able to happen in real life and a lot of the time made me sit there like:
because I really didn’t buy any of it, maybe because I didn’t try because the rest of the novel was already annoying me far too much… In saying that though, I do wish that the sorts of things that happened in this book could happen to real people, because I do believe that people like Jasmine and her family do exist, but do not have as much luck as they did, and are often sent back to where they came from with no way to argue about it.
The pace of the novel felt a bit off too, maybe as a result of a combination of the aforementioned things, I didn’t really get into it until the end part of the story, and I wasn’t fully engaged until the author’s note… which I think tells you a lot about my feelings when it came to this book.
So yes, whilst I give huge kudos to the author for raising this issue, I really did not like this book and felt that it fell largely short of my expectations, which were ridiculously high due to it being one of my most looked-forward to novels of 2016.
My Rating: 1.5/5 Stars
“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