I was kind of hoping that Something In Between will be my very first international YA novel with a Filipino for a main character but Jasmine, even though she was born in the Philippines, is completely an American at heart and I do not blame her because it’s where she grew up. It’s where she has established her everything- her life, her dreams and her future so when the threat of all of these things to be ripped away from her because of the possibility of her and her entire family’s deportation back to Philippines, I get why she is totally crushed and it’s nothing personal against my country.
This book isn’t really about being a Filipino. It’s about being an immigrant in the U.S. but I still do appreciate the character’s attempt at introducing her limited knowledge of Filipino ways, food, language, culture, and even humor every chance she gets.
Like most teens, Jasmine is quite self-absorbed but she does work hard to achieve her goals earning herself a national scholarship which however she couldn’t accept after knowing that she and her family are undocumented. Asians in foreign countries I guess do over-achieve perhaps to “compensate” for the color of our skin or the shape of our eyes because somehow most of us think we are inferior just because of how we look which, of course, is completely wrong.
Jasmine was like that. She sometimes comes off as too defensive as if everyone is out to get her or alienate her which seems like the standard attitude of anyone living in a foreign land but it’s cool how the author particularly portrayed how most of Jasmine’s American friends including her boyfriend and his family are very supportive of her and her family’s situation when she finally confided in them and that her fears and her worries about people judging her are only her own insecurities.
I’m glad she comes to a realization that just because she is not an American citizen (yet), that doesn’t make her a lesser person. That no matter where she ends up, she is free to go for her dreams and be who she wants to be.
At some point, some of the events got a bit unrealistic and sometimes the narrative can be a bit annoying since it is told in Jasmine’s POV which can get a little whiny at times. Still, Ms. Dela Cruz wrote an important YA read without being too serious or too preachy. She actually managed to make the story’s tone light and quite fairy-tale like despite the weight of the themes. The romance is quite cheesy but still likable while the friendships and family relationships are heartwarming.