I am so excited to share with you Maria E. Andreu's amazing debut novel, The Secret Side of Empty. This post will include my review as well as our interview with the main character, M.T.
Seriously, you guys, I haven't been this into a book in a very long time. I started reading The Secret Side of Empty late Saturday night and at 11 o'clock Sunday night I was done. I finished it in about 24 hours because once I started reading it was hard to stop.
It is such a timely novel, with main character dealing with being an undocumented immigrant living in suburban New Jersey but I think everyone will find something in M.T. that they can relate to as well. Anyway, more about all that in my review below.
Here's some book details just in case you haven't come across this novel before.
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Pages: 336 pages
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.
But it’s harder to hide now that M.T.’s a senior. Her school’s National Honor Society wants her to plan their trip abroad, her best friend won’t stop bugging her to get her driver’s license, and all everyone talks about is where they want to go to college. M.T. is pretty sure she can’t go to college, and with high school ending and her family life unraveling, she’s staring down a future that just seems empty. In the end, M.T. will need to trust herself and others to stake a claim in the life that she wants.
Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience as a (formerly) undocumented immigrant to explore an issue that affects over one million children in the U.S. But while the subject matter is timely, it is M.T.’s sharp, darkly funny voice and longing for a future that makes this story universally poignant.
What's your favorite song and movie? What titles can we find on your bookshelf?
I am just crazy looking forward to the movie Maleficent with Angelina Jolie. I know everyone liked Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, but I was always intrigued by Maleficent. What had happened to her to make her the way she is? When I heard they were making that movie I started counting the days. To stay on that theme, when I heard Lana Del Rey was singing the song for Maleficent, "Once Upon a Dream," I totally fan-girled. I love Lana Del Rey!!! "Once Upon a Dream" by her is kind of creepy and dark and awesome. My other favorite song from Lana Del Rey is "Ride." I really relate to that song.
As for books, there is this book called Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson that I read for English class junior year that totally blew my mind. It's one of those books I think I'll re-read over and over again.
If you can live off of 3 foods alone, what would those three foods be?
My mom makes these things called empanadas. They're like these little meat pies with hamburger meat inside, wrapped up in this awesome flaky crust. When I was little it was my job to put in one olive and one piece of hard-boiled egg inside each of them. She only makes them on holidays but I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
Besides that, I'm a fan of Cheetos and pizza. I know I'm supposed to like vegetables, but blech.
What is the most romantic thing a guy can do for you on a date?
I think it's romantic to have a really real conversation, which probably makes me a total dork. My boyfriend, Nate, and I can talk about, like, the third grade or the subplots of movies or whatever for hours. I think that's super romantic. I like romance that's not really trying too hard.
Leslie is about to graduate from high school in a few months and my friends and I want to make as many memories as we can. What is your favorite memory from high school?
There was this time my sophomore year the last day before Christmas break when a bunch of us got on a bus to go to the mall. None of my friends had a car yet and someone had this crazy idea to ride the bus. I was surprised to see the bus was almost full. There were like 10 of us and we went all the way to the back. We started goofing around, singing T.V. show jingles, first just among ourselves. But we started to notice people looking at us so we began singing louder. Then we started on Christmas carols. By the time we got to the mall we were singing full volume and a few of the other passengers had joined in. When we got off the bus everyone clapped. That was an awesome day.
So, yeah, Leslie, totally enjoy it and make all the memories you can.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I'm sorry, I know you're just making conversation, but as a senior in high school, I'm SOOOO tired of this question. "I don't know" is the short answer. Everyone is all like "college" and "study abroad" and "career" and I'm just like... I can't... that's not how my life is going to go. I can't explain, but my future isn't going to be like yours or Leslie's or anyone else's. It's... I don't think I have a future. Not like normal people. I don't mean to get all dark and depressing, but I think some people can plan five years ahead and some people can't. I'm one of those people who can't.
If I was just making some crazy story up, like if a fairy godmother came and could wave a wand and make my life less weird and I COULD plan five years ahead, I could see myself living in New York, doing stand-up or community organizing or something kind of fun and off the grid. I want to be with people who are true to themselves and not living life by someone else's rules.
Thanks for interviewing me!
Thanks for answering our questions M.T.! And a huge thank you to Maria for making this interview possible.
If you guys want to know M.T.'s story and whether or not she can finally plan for the next five years by the end of the novel, read The Secret Side of Empty! It is not to be missed. For more info about Maria, The Secret Side of Empty and her future novels, visit her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.