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The Secret Side of Empty
Cover of The Secret Side of Empty
The Secret Side of Empty
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As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.'s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.
With senior year of high school kicking into full swing, M.T. sees her hopes for a "normal" future unraveling. And it will take discovering a sense of trust in herself and others for M.T. to stake a claim in the life that she wants.
Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience to tell a story that is timely, relevant, and universally poignant.
As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.'s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.
With senior year of high school kicking into full swing, M.T. sees her hopes for a "normal" future unraveling. And it will take discovering a sense of trust in herself and others for M.T. to stake a claim in the life that she wants.
Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience to tell a story that is timely, relevant, and universally poignant.
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  • OverDrive Read
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Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.1
  • Lexile:
    610
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    2 - 3

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About the Author-
  • Maria E. Andreu is a writer and speaker whose work has appeared in Newsweek, The Washington Post, NJ.com, and the Newark Star Ledger. The Secret Side of Empty is her debut novel. Maria is a proud mother of two and an adoptive mother to various furry creatures. She was born in Spain, lived in Argentina for two years, and crossed the Mexican border into the U.S. at the age of eight. An American citizen due to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Maria currently lives in New Jersey. You can visit her online at mariaeandreu.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 10, 2014
    In her first novel, Andreu examines immigration from a distinctive angle through the story of Monserrat Thalia, aka M.T., whose family illegally immigrated to New Jersey from Argentina when she was a baby. Now it's her senior year, and the bright future she's imagined for herself is threatened by her abusive, embittered father, who's determined to return to their homeland. Lacking the support of her mother, M.T. grows angry and depressed, keenly aware of the wide gap between her resources and opportunities (she often comes home to find the electricity shut off) and those of her wealthy peers, including her best friend Chelsea and first love Nate. The threat of deportation, a confused sense of ethnic identity, and painfully low self-esteem ead M.T. to thoughts of suicide. The author addresses the logistical, economic, and psychological hurdles faced by many immigrants, including attaining a driver's license, having to turn to under-the-table work, and fighting stereotypes. M.T's immediate, jaundiced, and worldly perspective is eye-opening and wrenching, particularly when it comes to how she weighs her own worth as a human being. Ages 13–up. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House.

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2014

    Gr 9 Up-Monserrat Thalia, known as M. T., describes herself as pale white with blondish hair. It's easy for her to hide the fact that she's an undocumented immigrant whose family came from Argentina to New Jersey. M. T. keeps this secret from everyone, including her best friend and her eventual boyfriend. She excels in school and by all logic should be applying to colleges, but knows that her immigration status makes that an impossibility. As she watches her friends prepare for the next steps of their lives, the teen grows increasingly hopeless, uncertain how anything positive will come of her life as long as she remains in the country illegally. She doesn't fit anywhere-too American for her parents, but removed from the American culture around her. She begins to skip school, quits soccer, and stops tutoring other teens as her misery grows. Her father's physical and verbal abuse increases as she begins to lash out at her family and withdraw from her friends. It takes interventions from various people as well as finally sharing the truth for her to begin to see a way forward. M. T.'s narration is candid and at times heartbreaking. Told over the course of her senior year, the story reveals a captivating look at the life of one young immigrant and the challenges so many like her face. Andreu deftly captures the protagonist's desires, despair, and determination in this peek at a side of American life not often seen in YA literature.-Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Apollo High School Library, St. Cloud, MN

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2014
    M.T. is not what her wealthy, suburbanite friends think of as an immigrant: She has pale skin and blondish hair, and she's an overachieving student who is in the National Honor Society. But there is much that she is hiding. M.T. is undocumented, brought to the United States from Argentina by her parents when she was a child. The family lives in constant fear that they will be discovered and deported, sent back to a country M.T. barely remembers. As senior year progresses, and her friends make their plans for life beyond high school, M.T. feels like she has no future. She can't get a driver's license or a legal job, and college is an impossible dream. She narrates in the present tense, describing how the weight of her secret and her feelings of desperation permeate her life. The things that bring her joy--academics, friendships, first love--turn to reminders of a life just out of reach. However, M.T., like many undocumented youth, is resilient and determined to rise above her circumstances to make a life in the only country she has ever known as home. Drawing from her personal experience (as she explains in her author's note), Andreu has crafted an empathetic yet gritty narrative; readers will ache for M.T. as they are let into her secret life. A timely and powerful portrait of the American dream deferred. (resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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