Review: Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt

Review: Dream Things True by Marie MarquardtDream Things True by Marie Marquardt
Published by Macmillan on September 1, 2015
Pages: 352
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Evan and Alma have spent fifteen years living in the same town, connected in a dozen different ways but also living worlds apart -- until the day he jumps into her dad's truck and slams on the brakes. The nephew of a senator, Evan seems to have it all - except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two, surrounded by a large (sometimes smothering) Mexican family. They both want out of this town. His one-way ticket is soccer; hers is academic success.

When they fall in love, they fall hard, trying to ignore their differences. Then Immigration and Customs Enforcement begins raids in their town, and Alma knows that she needs to share her secret. But how will she tell her country-club boyfriend that she and almost everyone she's close to are undocumented immigrants?

What follows is a beautiful, nuanced 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. This page-turning debut asks tough questions, reminding us that love is more powerful than fear.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Dream Things True explores the complexity of undocumented workers through the eyes of two star-crossed teens. This is YA that’s not to be missed.

Evan and Alma are instantly attracted to each other (as teens often are), but come from such disparate backgrounds that the facets of their own lives seem like insurmountable obstacles standing between them and love.  For Alma, it’s an overprotective Mexican family and her status as an undocumented person. For Evan, it’s the pressure of a broken political family and the weight of his own privilege. But, and like all star-crossed lovers, I suppose, Evan and Alma risk it all for each other.

What I love the most about Dream Things True is Marquardt’s unflinching bravery in tackling the divisive subject of undocumented workers in the United States. Like Alma and Marquardt, I do not believe that people are “illegal.” That isn’t an adjective that should be associated with anyone. A person’s actions may be illegal, but their existence is not. Through Alma, Marquardt reminds us that our own preconceived notions about undocumented workers get in the way of noticing their humanity, and thus keeping us from enacting any meaningful change in the laws that treat them as objects. That, I think, is one of the more powerful messages in the book. I also loved that Marquardt took us into the complexities of immigration law. Voluntary removal, involuntary removal, and deportation all have distinct legal meanings for an undocumented worker. Now I know the difference.

I gave this book 4 stars because, in the end, I think Dream Things True is a really great book that tackles some tough topics in an approachable way. Though I’m not a teen anymore, I could identify with the intensity and passion of Evan and Alma. Some may call it “insta-love,” but I call it being a teenager. That irrational, almost instantaneous, passion you feel for another person is ubiquitous. I didn’t find that aspect of the book unrealistic.

What I did find unrealistic, however, was Evan and Alma’s breakup and Evan’s subsequent actions. I didn’t understand them. I think it felt rushed. I also wasn’t a fan of how rape was treated in the novel. Though I think the scenarios and repercussions (or lack thereof) are highly realistic and authentic, I had hoped Marquardt would have gone a little farther in an attempt to draw the line against looking the other way when it comes to date rape/the use of date rape drugs.

But, I will commend Marquardt for seamlessly integrating issues with class and racial privilege in her book about intersecting cultures. Evan’s treatment by the police vs. Manny’s treatment by the police are spot. on. Bravo for shedding some much-needed light on whiteness and racial privilege.

In the end, Dream Things True is a passionate love story that tackles some truly important topics. That Marquardt does this so effortlessly and so easily digestible for YA readers speaks to her passion for writing and her passion for immigration reform. This is a must read for teens and adults alike.


© 2015 – 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.