The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu


Although M.T. loves school and gets excellent grades, she refuses to apply for college. She avoids all talk of life after high school because she is hiding a secret. In spite of her fair hair and skin, M.T. is illegal. She has no Social Security card or driver's license and she lives in fear that someone will find out. When her father uses violence to get his way, M.T. avoids the police for fear of deportation. She can't go to college or plan for future jobs, because if her secret is discovered she will be forced back to a country she doesn't even remember.

The Secret Side of Empty is a powerful story and held special interest for me, because a close family friend struggles with these same issues. I have seen just a glimpse of the fear and hopelessness of 'undocumented' children and their courageous fight to build a better life. Maria Andreu draws on personal experience and writes about difficult issues with beauty. Her writing and M.T.'s story will give teens a more complete and empathetic view of this trying situation. Readers should be aware that Andreu covers issues such as domestic violence and thoughts of suicide, but leaves her readers with hope and understanding. The Secret Side of Empty is an eye-opening read I would recommend for all older teens.

Recommended ages-16 and up

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