A Junior Library Guild Selection, 2014
What's it like to be undocumented? High school senior M.T. knows all too well. With graduation and an uncertain future looming, she must figure out how to grow up in the only country she's ever called home... a country in which she's "illegal".
M.T. was born in Argentina and brought to America as a baby without any official papers. And as questions of college, work, and the future arise, M.T. will have to decide what exactly she wants for herself, knowing someone she loves will unavoidably pay the price for it. On the way, M.T. must navigate first love, letting go of her childhood friends as they begin a life she can't share, a difficult relationship with a father who grew up a world away and a mother struggling to find her way in America. What is it like when the only country you've ever known says you don't belong? The Secret Side of Empty offers an intimate, often surprising glimpse into a story you often hear on the news but have never heard told this way before.
Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience as a former undocumented immigrant to explore issues of belonging, keeping secrets, and what it's like to be undocumented. More than that, The Secret Side of Empty is a story that will touch anyone who has ever felt excluded or unsure about the future or has kept a secret she felt was too big too share.
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Heavy topics handled well but just fell short 4 me
I started this book a few years ago and put it down because I just wasn't in the mood for YA contemporary at the time. Fast forward a few years later when an audiobook has since been released, I gave it another shot since my preference is for audiobooks of any genre.
I think what made me pick the book up in the first place was because it was advertised as a "different" kind of immigration story, and I do agree with that assessment of it, I just didn't connect to it as well as I thought I would have. I've been reading really good books centering on young girls and immigration that I think I just had high hopes for this one.
The Secret Side of Empty follows Monserrat(I love the pronunciation of this name) or M.T. as she likes to be called, and her struggles with being undocumented "Argentina". I think what initially drew me to this one was that most immigration stories are centered on "brown" latinos. Mexican or other Central Americans; never from the voice of a white latina. Because M.T. was white, I think it confused her that she didn't have the luxury of all of her rich, equally white friends. This wasn't supposed to be happening to her. She believed should've been privileged in a way her friends were but she wasn't and for this I really struggled with her narrative.
The book features a lot of heavy topics that I wasn't expecting. The abuse was a lot for me to handle considering I come from a history of domestic violence towards women. The ending was just not the one that I hoped for but I do think this story is really important. I've just read ones I enjoyed more.
Not really. It ended well enough for me not to wonder what happens next.