By Maria E. Andreu Editions: here Expected publication: 2014 by Running Press Kids Genre: YA Contemporary
You’ve heard the news stories. Now hear the real story.
M.T. is starting her senior year with a lot going for her. She gets great grades, has a best friend she met in kindergarten and a boyfriend who is sweet and into her. But life – at least as she knows it – is about to end.
M.T. is what the news calls “illegal” – she came to the U.S. with her parents as a baby and never got the right papers that allowed her to stay. She lives in fear of her family getting deported, in even more fear that she’ll have to go to the home country she doesn’t even remember, of people finding out her ugly secret and of the increasingly volatile situation at home. When senior year is over, the protected world she’s found in her small parochial school will disappear. Without a social security number, she won’t be able to go to college, get a job or, maybe worst of all, get a driver’s license.
But she’ll worry about all that later. First, she’s got a senior year to take on.
~ Worldwind BT
A girl with a secret by Maria Andreu
My book, The Secret Side of Empty, doesn’t have explosions, fangs or swoon-worthy hunks on horseback. In fact, it’s just a story about a girl. This girl, M.T., is a high school senior with a secret: she’s “illegal.” She was brought over to the U.S. as a baby by her parents without the right papers. So, although she feels like a regular American girl, she doesn’t have a social security number which means no college, no driver’s license, no job. For her, life as she knows it is over when she graduates from high school, which she’s about to do.
What’s it like growing up feeling “wrong,” and like a stowaway for a decision you had no hand in making? If there is anyone who can write that tale, it’s me. I too was undocumented as a kid. I grew up seeing the future as a hopeless black wall, with no good options. But, for me, there was something of a “magic wand” fairytale ending. When I was 18, I became eligible for an amnesty that put me on a path to citizenship. And the wall crumbled so that I could build an amazing life.
For decades all I wanted to do was put it out of my mind. I wanted to be like everybody else. But then I guess none of us are like everybody else. I had longed to be a writer for as long as I could remember, and one day I finally understood that the way I was going to do that was to tell my darkest, most closely-held secret. And so The Secret Side of Empty was born.
People ask me what it’s like to share something that was once so private. The answer is that it’s incredibly liberating. I once thought that my difference made me weak, but I now see that it’s what’s unique and precious about me. It’s been such a gift sharing the story, and making it a novel freed me up to make it a fun, interesting read. My favorite scene is the slow-speed chase in which the main character meets her boyfriend. It is fun to let your imagination run wild.
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About the Author & Links:
Maria Andreu is an author and immigration rights activist. She lives in beautiful Bergen County, New Jersey with her two wonderful middle schoolers. At the age of 12, she wrote in her diary, “Most of all, I want to be a writer.” Growing up undocumented and poor, she never imagined that dream might come true one day. Her work has been published in Newsweek, The Washington Post and The Star Ledger and her first novel, The Secret Side of Empty, will be published by Running Press in Spring, 2014.
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