Welcome, bookworms, to the latest and greatest edition of Which Wednesdays (ok, so, it might not be the greatest). This week’s topic is Aliens… but not these guys:
Nope. I’m talking about the legal term that The United States of America uses to describe illegal immigrants. Yes, these soccer-loving, taco eating, sombrero obsessed criminal-element, rapist Mexicans.
(I hope y’all are feeling the sarcasm)
Now, with all of Trump’s… assholery…, he said he’s gonna build a wall and keep the Mexicans out (never mind that not all the illegal immigrants are not Mexican, but who cares? )
So, I’ve stumbled on a few stories dealing with these topics, so without further ado, here’s Joyride by Anna Banks and Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt. Both these stories are told in the POV of POCs (so yay diversity), and by simply looking at the summaries, they have a lot in common.
ROUND 1: Synopsis. (From Goodreads)
It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.
Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.
All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.
A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils in their hostile Georgia town.
Evan, a soccer star and the nephew of a conservative Southern Senator, has never wanted for much — except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two-years-old, excels in school, and has a large, warm Mexican family. Never mind their differences, the two fall in love, and they fall hard.
But when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town, Alma knows that she needs to tell Evan her secret. There’s too much at stake. But how to tell her country-club boyfriend that she’s an undocumented immigrant? That her whole family and most of her friends live in the country without permission. What follows is a beautiful, nuanced, well-paced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives.
Both these summaries look very, very similar. However, the one thing I don’t really like is the line “Romeo and Juliet romance”. Let me let you in on a not-so-secret secret. I abhor Romeo and Juliet romances. Usually ridden with cliches, badly written and no plot except for the romance, I really really really dislike them.
See? My three levels of dislike.
ROUND 2: Style of Writing
I enjoyed both styles here: they made reading both books easy and fun. Only problem is that I don’t think I can really distinguish between either: there was nothing special about the narration at all. In terms of making me feel something, Carly from Joyride won, simply because I thought certain aspects in Dream Things True were over the top. Seriously.
WINNER: Both (or neither, if you are a negative Nancy 😀 )
ROUND 3: Characters
Overall, I liked most of the characters of both books, but there were a few problems found in each book. To start, the villains of both books were completely one-dimensional. Racist, assholes, controlling, conservative, rich, jackasses, conservative – oh wait, I’m repeating myself. Basically, I think YA found a new archetype, and the only reason I’m complaining is because I get the feeling if someone swapped these villains on me, I probably wouldn’t notice the difference.
Now, individually, I preferred the characters in Joyride much more, simply because they were more realistic to me. They were conflicted, worried about going against family, and had their own struggles. The romance wasn’t overpowering either… now, I wouldn’t normally call it a slow-burn, but compared to the romance in Dream Things True, it’s a slow burn.
The family relationships in Joyride (whether it be Arden and his grandpa, or Carly and her bro) were sweet and at times frustrating… just like in real life.
Now, mini spoiler here: I’m 90% sure that both main characters are undocumented immigrants (90% because it’s been almost 7 months since I read Joyride XD) So something that really pissed me off in Dream Things True was the way Alma totally told her dream boy she was undocumented. Obviously, he didn’t turn out to be a prick, but she is under the very real threat of deportation. Like, woman, if you can get thrown out of the country (and you know people that have had that happen) WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU ADMIT IT?!?! I mean, act a little conflicted for the reader’s sake.
Also, for the reader’s sake, try to disguise your burgeoning romance as something other than insta-lust. Like, damn, boy, why does he try so hard to help her, when he literally just wants to get in her pants? I get it, “Romeo and Juliet”, but the life changing epiphanies he has because of her seem so… unrealistic, since he’s only basically lusting after her.
ROUND 4: Setting/World Building
Both books do an amazing job of letting the reader into the lives of undocumented immigrants. The worry for their family and future (You think Uni is hard? Try getting admitted to Uni when you don’t even have the paperwork to even work in the country) is real and to a certain extent, relatable. The daily grind and frustration of teens who deserve more is palpable and sad… because in reality, they are exactly like any other legal citizen.
Now, in terms of actually building up the setting, Joyride was a lot slower and a lot less specific. It could have been set in any state and I wouldn’t have noticed (although, obviously it’s southern because they are the only ones that get really hot and bothered when it comes to illegal immigration.
Now, Dreams Come True really tried to give the reader a taste of diversity. There were Spanish lines (which I sorta understood, because of French), a lot more cultural heritage. It tried a lot more than Joyride to incorporate an actual setting (rather than just a setting for a cutesy romance).
WINNER: Dreams Come True
ROUND 5: Originality/Interest
Joyride stuck to a few topics, and covered them extremely well (obviously, in my opinion – I know some people on Goodreads disagree).
Dreams Come True covered everything you’d expect and more. “Undocumented immigrants, race and discrimination, power and privilege, drugs, rape, and exoticism, among others” – Joey describes it best. It really is a diverse read: although I was really disappointed with the terrible romance.
WINNER: Dream Things True
Final score: 3-3
Joyride: 5 out of 5 stars
Dream Things True: 3 out of 5 stars
WHICH ONE: Joyride
GUYS GUYS GUYS! Acheivement unlocked… THEY TIED! So the only reason that Joyride won was because of the atrocious romance. It literally knocked 2 stars of my rating… so if you disagree with me, comment why!