Every American could benefit from this story. Too few of us truly understand the struggle of an undocumented teenager - a "Dreamer". Ms. Andreu 's characters come to life on the page and in no time you will find yourself identifying with the plight of the main character, M.T. This should be required reading for all American teenagers (and any adult who supports the end of DACA). American politics suffers from a severe lack of empathy and understanding for people who's experience differs from the "average". I am eternally grateful to Ms. Andreu for bringing this important perspective into my life.
“I will always be a stranger everywhere. With my parents, I am too American. With Americans, I am a spectator with my nose pressed against their windowpanes, watching their weird rituals and rites of passage, never quite understanding them completely.” (98)
M.T. appears, from the outside, to just be a typical high school senior trying to make it to graduation: Vice President of NHS; going on excursions with her best friend, Chelsea; falling in love with the cute guy who asked her out on Facebook. The problem is, none of these things show others how she truly feels or what she’s going through, and no one can understand how painful it is for her to get through every day with her head up.
M.T. is an illegal immigrant from Argentina, a fact that permeates every aspect of her life. At home, her father, nagged by money worries, abuses her to no end, while her mother helplessly watches on. While her friends excitedly chat about their college plans, M.T. is faced with the knowledge that she will never, ever be able to leave, not without a social security card or the wealth that others so easily flaunt. And no one can ever know about any of these things, or else she is risking the deportation of her parents and little brother.
With breathless glimpses into a life that mirrors ones of so many people in the United States, Maria Andreu reveals a devastatingly conflicted story of a girl forced to grow up and deal with dilemmas that no one should have to face. Written in a frank and honest teenage voice, the book deals with topics that, usually heavy-handed, are instead portrayed as incredibly readable human-rights issues. This is a great read for middle and high school students, not only because it is at the appropriate reading level, but because it gives the story of someone who is both incredibly relatable and requires the help and understanding of those around her.
Wow! Wow! Wow! I loved this book so much. It is a young adult novel - but I am well into adulthood! This is such an important book both politically and psychologically. To be honest, I had never had such a close up look into the the life of anyone living in the U.S. undocumented - and certainly not a teen or a child. I am changed from this view. This book also just cut me to the core with its searing emotional honesty. It reminded me of times in my own life when I was sad and overwhelmed. Times had forgotten. What a talent we have in Ms. Andreu. I hope everyone reads this book and buys it for a friend. It's an important piece of literature.
When I first opened the book and started to read the first few pages I knew this book was something special. I immediately connected on a personal level with MT. Being an illegal immigrant as a high school student, I emotionally connected with the struggle of belonging and hiding the truth from my close friends. I am glad this book touches on the immense issue of immigration but in a more humane view instead of the typical stereotype immigrant. I hope this book touches the young lives that are going through this difficult situation now and gives them a token of hope. Brilliantly written by Andreu, made me cried, smiled and sympathized with being a teenager in this country and not having that very important paper. I look forward to reading more books in the future by this new amazing upcoming author. I highly recommend it.
The Secret Side of Empty is one of those books you can’t put down. And, because at some point you have to; when you do, you can’t stop thinking about it. M.T. has a secret that to her is so defining, so demeaning, so debilitating that she can’t share it with anyone – not her best friend, not her beloved teacher, not her boyfriend. And while the majority of readers have not lived M.T.’s secret, most of us can relate to a personal albatross, monkey on the back or gut-wrenching experience that has felt so unsurmountable that it has altered the way we live our lives.
M.T. is smart, witty and insightful, believable, lovable and frustrating. Whether she is battling her demons at home, interacting with her friends at school or fumbling her way through a relationship with her newfound love, she will make you laugh, make you cry and make you cringe.
The author has mastered the art of unveiling character traits and temperaments through conversation and actions, all the while remaining true to the teenage soul. The writing is beautiful, the pain is credible, and the victories are well won. The ending is satisfying, leaving you with fresh perspectives and a yearning for a sequel.
The Secret Side of Empty is a rare gem. It draws you out of yourself and deposits you right into M.T.’s troubled heart, which is a pretty nice place to spend some time.