Alma can’t wait to shake the dust off her small southern town from her shoes and make something of herself in college at a prestigious school. She has spent the last several years preparing and convincing her family. Now all she needs is a scholarship, and thanks to a dedicated guidance counselor, that goal is within reach. Then a handsome white boy turns Alma’s head the two begin a romance that jeopardizes everything Alma has worked towards.
Evan is the classic American rich boy. Alma isn’t sure he could ever understand her world – her strict father and large, close family. Her family’s dangerous status as undocumented immigrants.
At first I wasn’t sure if the story would strike a good balance between Evan and Alma’s romance and the themes concerning immigration. I was afraid that either the romance would drown out the rest of the plot or the politics would get too preachy.
There are a few moments where the romance really heats up, but Alma’s goal was never to find a boyfriend or to find love, so her motivations keep the story on track. As her family’s ability to remain in the US becomes less and less certain, tension soars, and I found myself turning page after page, desperate to know the outcome.
Without getting into a long monologue about politics, I felt like Marquardt presented a great story and created excellent characters. Dream Things True brings a face to the plight of undocumented immigrants and invites us to reexamine stereotypes and fears. Since reading this novel, I’ve spent more time reading about current laws and issues regarding immigration in the US than I ever had in the past. The fact that the story prompted further education must be something its author would consider a win, I believe.
I liked that the romance between Evan and Alma added to and was transformed by the story. It’s not romance strictly for the sake of romance. It made sense why they liked each other; they felt worthy of one another. Yet those things didn’t mean that love was the perfect solution to all their problems. Love played a role, but it wasn’t the point of the story.
Readers who enjoy romance should definitely give this one a go, especially fans of Jennifer E. Smith.
Strong profanity used infrequently.
Alma knows that if she gets pregnant, she will lose the opportunity to go to college. She sets boundaries for herself and is committed not to cross them. At a party, she begins kissing her boyfriend pretty amorously, and the next day can’t remember what happened. He did not take advantage of her. Later he does ask her to have sex with him, but she says no and he respects her answer. There are a few scenes in which they lie down next to one another or she sits in his lap and kisses him. At one point they go swimming together in just their underwear.
There are rumors that one of the boys on the soccer team drugs girls and has sex with them. A boy confesses to Alma that he participated in this once. His confession is plain, and Alma is appalled and won’t let him make light of the situation. The boy receives consequences for his actions.
A fifteen year old girl and a twenty year old boy plan to marry. The girl has a baby.
Alma’s family is deeply religious and has a statue of Mary in her home. She and her aunts pray the rosary and light candles before the statue to pray for Alma’s mother, who has died.
Evan attends church with his mom, but it seems to be largely about keeping up appearances. We don’t learn anything about what Evan personally believes.
See sexual content.
Evan and Raul help break up a fight that started at a party. Evan and another boy get into a fight which the police break up.
Evan’s cousin Whit abuses prescription drugs and alcohol. Evan tries to keep him from engaging in those behaviors, but it’s kind of a lost cause. Whit ends up having to be hospitalized and later goes to rehab.
Teens, including Alma, drink alcohol at a party.