Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on September 1, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Rerated: 3 Stars
3.5 Stars, Completed September 8, 2015
– minor SPOILERS ahead –
Dream Things True is a modern Romeo and Juliet-esque story about a wealthy, privileged southern boy falling in love with an undocumented Mexican girl. Evan seems to live the perfect golden boy life as a soccer star and nephew of a widely-supported, conservative senator. When Evan meets Alma he begins to question the family figures he’s admired growing up and he becomes caught up in complicated issues he’s never considered before. ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) tightens security on the borders and raids the counties of Gilberton, Georgia for undocumented individuals, making things much more difficult for Alma and her family. As Evan and Alma, get to know each other, Alma struggles with composing the right words to reveal her true identity to Evan. With facing the complications of immigration and tangled bureaucracies, will Evan and Alma be able to overcome these obstacles?
Like in Romeo and Juliet, every character in this book is incredibly flawed, yet unlike the Shakespeare work I actually ended up feeling great sympathy for them if not a connection. I live in a primarily white dominant community, so I was raised and schooled with people like Evan, the rich country club and charity auction goers. However, I did have some friends similar to Alma, the population that didn’t quite fit in. I thought Marquardt did a fantastic job with attempting to display the two very different perspectives.
Even though the writing had its own uniqueness, I wasn’t a big fan of it. Dream Things True is told in an awkward dual perspective alternating between Evan and Alma. The narration often switches mid-chapter so I found it a little disconcerting, but after a few chapters the abrupt transitions were not a big deal for me. Also, there was a good bit of Spanish woven into the dialogue, which is something I’m sure a lot of readers that can understand Spanish would appreciate. Since I only know the elementary basics of Spanish having taken the language when I was in my primary school, which was 10+ years ago, I was often times lost. Thankfully, these Spanish phrases were translated so it didn’t hinder my reading experience entirely.
Evan and Alma’s relationship progressed abnormally quickly and made me feel a tad uncomfortable. I know that many boys (and girls too) are often hormone-driven during their teenage years but I found it too odd that when Evan first met Alma he was already driven by the desire to touch her-this first encounter was in a span of a couple of minutes, mind you. For that reason, I didn’t find Evan the sweet, swoon-worthy boyfriend material, which is the prototype I tend to prefer in these type of romances. Instead, their relationship was one dimensional because of this insta-lust in my opinion. So I felt like there were moments where the immigration issue could have been more focused on but instead readers got a lot of “oh, this girl is so special and not like any other I’ve known before” and “I love him but I shouldn’t,” inspired Romeo and Juliet scenes. I know that romance can be a great contributing factor for some readers-me included, admittedly-but I think a non-romantic relationship would have worked well for Dream Things True actually.
On the other hand, though Alma had her flaws and experienced moments of Juliet syndrome, I really enjoyed her point of view in the story. She’s a coffee addict, honest, and new to young love and dating. Also, she defies all stereotypes on the girls of her race. Also the fact that Alma grew up in the States most of her life, made her more American than Mexican at times, which made her and her brother more special in comparison to the other undocumented teenagers in the novel. Her “coming out” about her undocumented status and confession that she didn’t really fit anywhere-Mexico not being her “home” since she was two years old and the States being a tedious, temporary “home” was realistically honest and plausible.
My favorite character in Dream Things True was definitely the witty, sarcastic Whit. He’s everything that his dad, the conservative southern senator, isn’t. Whit acknowledges the complex issues that brew around him head on-with an unbiased political view. He’s also a closet intellect, openminded and embraces diversity, and speaks flawless Spanish (he was adored by all the Mexican grandmothers of the story because of his eloquence). Even so, Whit’s character is not any less broken than the other characters. After the events of last summer and his addiction to drugs and alcohol, he’s been lost and nursing pent up remorse. It’s not until the very end do the readers see him accept rehab, heal, and make amends for things he’s done. Whit is the character that highlighted important points such as standing up for what you believe in and righting your wrongs. I wish Alma was the face for this campaign, but the branded “good for nothing” Whit surprised me for his premature wisdom, self-awareness, and redemption.
Was the ending a tragic Romeo and Juliet “till death do us part” type? Fortunately, no. Most of the side plots were wrapped up cleanly, but Evan and Alma’s story remained open-ended or rather the book sort of just ended after a momentous scene. In that final scene readers realize why the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of La Leche, was so important to the Garcia family. And even though there’s no dramatic death, there’s also no sense of redemption to look forward to for the main storyline. But there is hope for Alma’s character and her future. So overall I was pretty pleased with the ending.
I give Dream Things True full marks on exploring and encompassing tedious subjects such as immigration, tangled bureaucracies, racism, and other prevalent issues in society today. Sure, not all aspects of these issues were tackled, but overall I think it serves a great introduction for those interested in these complex topics, particularly immigration. The incorporation of Spanish surely will wow some readers and the dual persepective did serve to display two very different point of views. Also, like all Shakespeare romantic tragedies there’s some drama and comedy. So if you’re into that, I recommend this book for those reasons as well.
Special thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin for allowing me to participate in this blog tour and sending me this review copy of Dream Things True. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.
Also St. Martin’s Griffin was kind enough to give me an opportunity to host a giveaway (thank you, again, St. Martin’s Griffin team!), so if you guys are interested please consider entering the giveaway.
Dream Things True Giveaway!
- U.S./Canada residents only (sorry!)
- Ends in roughly two weeks on Tuesday, September 22, 2015
- 1 winner gets to receive a finished copy of DREAM THINGS TRUE
- I will be emailing and giving the winner 48 hours to respond to my email before choosing another winner
- Also St. Martin’s Griffin will be the party sending out the book, Xingsings will not be responsible for lost or damaged goods
- And, please no cheating. I will be checking the winner’s entries!
- Good luck!
Direct Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4e94303f1/