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Dream Things True

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A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils in their hostile Georgia town.

Evan, a soccer star and the nephew of a conservative Southern Senator, has never wanted for much -- except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two-years-old, excels in school, and has a large, warm Mexican family. Never mind their differences, the two fall in love, and they fall hard. But when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town, Alma knows that she needs to tell Evan her secret. There's too much at stake. But how to tell her country-club boyfriend that she’s an undocumented immigrant? That her whole family and most of her friends live in the country without permission. What follows is a beautiful, nuanced, well-paced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2015

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About the author

Marie Marquardt

5 books161 followers
Marie Marquardt is author of YA novels Does My Body Offend You? (with Mayra Cuevas), Dream Things True, The Radius of Us, and Flight Season. Her books have earned many awards and commendations, including BEA Buzz Books, Books all Young Georgians Should Read, and the CLASP Américas Commendation, and they have been shortlisted for several state book awards, including the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award and the Missouri Gateway Readers Award. Marie also has published articles and co-authored two non-fiction books about Latin American immigration to the U.S. South, and has been interviewed about her research, writing, and advocacy on National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and BBC America, among many other media outlets. She lives in a busy household in Decatur, Georgia with her spouse, four kids, several chickens, a dog, and a bearded dragon. You can connect with Marie on Instagram, @Marie_Marquardt and at her website, MarieMarquardt.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 220 reviews
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,552 reviews903 followers
August 30, 2015
Mixed feelings.

I was excited about this book about a relationship between an undocumented girl and an upper middle class boy (her dad does his family's yard work). But to me, the mix of rich boy/poor girl romance and issue book was a combination that didn't always work.

That being said, there is a lot here to like. I thought there was a lot of good information in this book for readers who have an interest in immigration issues and how they play out for real people who could be our neighbors and friends. But Dream Things True isn't a newspaper article, it's a story, and I struggled with this aspect a bit. I never felt fully absorbed in the narrative.

The POV-- close third person that alternates between Evan's POV and Alma's --felt awkward at times. I mostly liked Alma as a character, but to me, Evan gave off a vibe that kept feeling ... strange. I struggled with this a lot. I mean, yes, teenage boys are extremely hormone-driven, and yes, it's a definite possibility (probability?) that most YA books and readers idealize this teen boy demographic to an unrealistic degree. But the way Evan looked at and thought about Alma -- mostly in terms of the shapeliness and attractiveness of her body -- made me extremely uncomfortable. Back in college I took a film class that discussed the objectifying male gaze of film. I couldn't stop thinking about that discussion as I read this book.

Immigration is a topical (and often divisive) issue, and it's definitely tricky to take on a subject like this and not let the narrative become didactic. I think the key is to make the reader care so much about the characters that they don't feel like they are reading an issue book. In this case of this book, I think those things in the story I previously mentioned (narrative POV and Evan's gaze) kept me at somewhat of a distance from Alma's community and their plight.

In sum, I do think readers who are interested in immigration issues or those who want to learn more about them should definitely check this book out. I'd have preferred this with a non-romantic vibe but romantic chemistry can be a personal preference thing -- Alma and Evan's relationship may work better for other readers than it did for me.

Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy for review!

Read more of my reviews on YA Romantics or follow me on Bloglovin

Profile Image for Sophie.
1,235 reviews445 followers
December 31, 2015
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacted on my view.

Dream Things True was an enjoyable book to read, but was somewhat lacking. It is a modern day retelling of Romeo and Juliet, with Evan being a wealthy, privileged Southern boy, and Alma an undocumented Mexican girl, who has lived in America since she was two years old. As they fall in love, legislation that Evan's senator uncle has implemented threatens their relationship, and Alma is at risk of being deported when ICE arrive in sleepy Gilbert County.

I really enjoyed the nuances of their different upbringings. To learn about the Mexican culture than Alma and her family still embrace was wonderful. The little dialogues in Spanish were a bit difficult, as I couldn't really understand more than a couple of phrases here and there (even though I have a Spanish GCSE, oops!). For the most part, they were sort of translated, so it didn't ruin the reading experience completely. I loved how Evan embraced the Spanish, and wished he spoke it better, to be closer to Alma and her family. Though it is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, Alma's family don't mind Evan, not like with the original. Rather, they, especially Alma, and her brother, Raul, become really close to Evan.

The secondary characters were fun to read about too. Whit was by far my favourite, and the revelation that was revealed about him helped to explain why he was that way. I don't excuse what he did, but at least he tried to make amends for his actions. I also loved Mrs King, and all she did to help Alma, even from before the book began. Alma was a straight-A student, who should've had the very best opportunities, for scholarships, college, etc., if not for her citizenship status. When everything kicked off with ICE, and Alma lost family members left, right, and centre, Mrs King did everything she could to get the best help for Alma, and to explore the options that were available to her.

Though the book seemed to lack a certain something, the little side plots that came full circle by the end of the story helped to build up the plot. One of these side plot was to do with Whit, alluded to above. The other had to do with a manifestation of the Virgin Mary: Our Lady of La Leche - Mary breastfeeding Jesus. The reason for why she is important to the family is revealed right at the very end, and when it is, it makes a lot of sense.

The thing that I think brought down the rating of this book was the ending. It just stopped. I know most YA contemporaries tend to leave the reading wanting more, but this was different. The very last page seemed, to me, like the middle of a scene. There was no real resolution, and I'm left feeling a little cheated, and unfulfilled with the story now. If there was even just one more chapter, that would have made it so much better.

Overall, the book was enjoyable, but not fantastic. I'd probably say it's sort of a 'meh' book: neither good, nor bad. The story was lovely to read, but the ending let it down. I think the book will appeal to some, but not to others.
Profile Image for Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries).
1,248 reviews393 followers
February 11, 2021
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I picked up at BEA 2015.
*most of the cast is POC, being that Alma's family is so large
*Alma's family is fairly poor and suffer from racial discrimination/racism

A few years ago, I read this little book called Burning that I loved and hated in equal measure. The Romani girl Lala’s POV chapters touched me and got me to root for her; the white boy’s chapters were odious in their offensiveness and made me want to feed him through a wood chipper because he never grew to learn better. Dream Things True, what with its rich white boy and undocumented Mexican immigrant girl sharing the third-person narrative, is much the same way. Alma’s sections are lovely and shed a much-needed light on life as an undocumented immigrant in an era where Donald Trump’s racist, early-Hitler-esque rhetoric puts him at the top of the Republican polls. However, Evan’s hardly-questioned mounds of privilege really weigh down what could have been a great novel.

Alma’s life is a difficult one, but she’s a survivor through it all. Though she and her large extended family are living in fear of being caught and deported–completely reasonable given that local anti-undocumented-immigrant sentiment is all over the place–they live normal lifes. Alma goes to school, thinks about college, and does anything a “normal” teenager would do. There’s no way to tell if someone is an undocumented immigrant by just looking at them. When their lifelong fear suddenly becomes real and multiple family members are deported after being arrested in ICE stings, she rises to the occasion and doesn’t take bull from anyone. Not even Evan, the white boy she inexplicably loves.

Speaking of Evan, his rich-boy-with-a-dysfunctional-family problems are banal on their own, but when they’re equated with Alma’s much deeper, very real problems, they’re downright laughable and somewhat offensive. His problems will never equal hers. Ever. When factoring in his troubled cousin Whit’s issues (which are more understandable in part but also more offensive; see below), there are a lot of moments that may make readers roll their eyes at Evan and Whit’s Rich White Boy Problems.

For instance, one scene early on demonstrates the problem between Evan and Alma. When she goes to a party at his house, she has to wear one of Evan’s mother’s skimpy bikini’s and it’s clear she feels uncomfortable. Evan offers her his shirt to cover up with after committing Description Sin #1 of comparing the color of her skin to milky coffee. That’s innocent yet questionable on its own, but the scene as told from Evan’s POV focuses on how she looks vulnerable with so much skin visible, not her visible discomfort that’s only explicitly mentioned once they start talking. Evan expresses then that he noticed her discomfort and that’s why he gave her the shirt, but that’s not what readers see. How can I get on board with something like this?

Sympathy for Whit comes in because he’s dealing with substance abuse and trauma he sustained from raping a girl with someone else while drunk/high, but then again, HE RAPED A GIRL AND POSSIBLY GOT HER PREGNANT. There’s only so much sympathy he can earn given the rape subplot is far in the background and Whit gets more time on the page than the actual rape victim and her feelings. Evan? Eff that guy, he ain’t nothing.

Also, eff everything because this was the perfect opportunity to make Whit asexual and give us another example of representation even if he’s a rapist:

“Whit didn’t seem to be into girls, but he wasn’t showing many signs of being all that into boys either.” (p. 151)

(I’m being restrained because I’m tired of having to do extra edits to my reviews to please the Amazon Overlords, okay?)

Instead of focusing on the rape of this Mexican girl by two white men and the complications created because of her status as an undocumented immigrant, readers get the underdeveloped, insta-love-ridden romance of Alma and Evan a la Romeo and Juliet themselves. Though this point is debatable, such a quick romance works for good old R and J because the play can only go on for so long and the point is that it takes two children dying to get two families to stop feuding. Books have all the time in the world to develop a romance and this book in particular has no real point with the romance other than DRAMATICS. It would honestly be better without one. They call it love very quickly and a hard-headed adult lawyer even validates this undercooked romance by talking about how she can sense their love. It’s a major case of show vs. tell.

As flawed as Dream Things True is, it managed to turn on my editor brain because it has so much untapped potential. For instance, imagine Evan is an adopted child born in Mexico instead of a white boy born to white parents. Imagine all the complications! Imagine the gross “white savior” vibes he regularly gives off disappearing! Better yet, what if he were that and a girl named Evanna? It could have made for a lovely Lies We Tell Ourselves-esque story and tackled the everyday homophobia encountered in small towns across the United States. Oh, the beauty of it! Now I want to write fanfic!

That this story takes place in late 2007 and 2008 is a bit strange too. With thousands fleeing gang violence in Central America and coming to the US (aka the place that caused the instability in Central America #irony), the immigration debate as of the last two years has been especially volatile. It was a big deal in 2007/2008 too, but the novel would be better suited for a more current setting. (Alas, the book was finalized by the time Donald Trump jumped into the presidential race with racist aplomb, so I can’t fault it for omitting his brand of rhetoric. I can only imagine how many people are kicking themselves because of that.)

But really, the novel isn’t all bad! It reaches some of its potential! Once Alma gets fed up with being the model minority and dealing with the patriarchy (aka her father’s controlling ways and Evan’s determination to “save” her), what she lets fly from her lips is so beautiful I can’t bear to quote it. Whereas a large number of terrible people fail to recognize rape when it happens to someone who is drunk, high, and/or drugged, Alma calls it exactly what it is: rape.

The ending is rather uncertain thanks to Alma’s brother Raul, so it’s up to readers to decide if everything turns out okay or goes straight to hell. I can’t particularly recommend Dream Things True because it’s a book that refuses to cut as deeply as it needs to, but I’m glad I stuck with it for Alma’s sake. She’s worth it. But seriously, choosing to focus on Whit more often than the girl he raped was bull and I hope someone else gets angry about this.
Profile Image for Rachel  (APCB Reviews).
331 reviews1,193 followers
January 23, 2016
Although I had a few issues with this novel (mainly with the plotting and the characters' decisions), I really loved the romance and Marie's passion to share the injustices of the immigration issues that plague our nation. Review to come.
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,120 reviews1,365 followers
August 20, 2015

Dream Things True first came to my attention thanks to Nereyda at Mostly YA Book Obsessed. We were having a discussion about immigration laws and undocumented immigrants. I was looking forward to reading the book especially because the author seemed to be well-versed in the topic and I knew she would bring some authenticity to the subject in YA. While I completely appreciated everything that I learned about immigration laws and what it's like to be undocumented in the United States, a heartbreaking situation really, I wasn't as affected by the book as I would have liked to be. Simply put, the characters in Dream Things True were bland. They didn't really have any dimensions to them and I needed them to be more fleshed out. I was emotionally distant from both protagonists and while they had qualities that I enjoyed immensely, I thought they needed to be more developed. This could have been a very powerful story had they been better characters and more layered. I also thought the pacing in the book was a bit off and there were moments that felt like information dumping to me. In the end, I was disappointed with Dream Things True because of its textbook-style writing and my inability to relate to the characters. There is still a valuable amount of information that you can learn about the topic of undocumented immigrants though.
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews805 followers
Want to read
June 23, 2016
I love how this one sounds, it doesn't sound like anything I've read before. Lots of mixed reviews though so fingers crossed?
Profile Image for Katherine.
778 reviews355 followers
February 6, 2017
Oh man, it hurts me to give such a low rating to a book with such a relevant subject matter, but this book was actually becoming painful to read.

Alma and her family are undocumented immigrants living in Georgia. Her father runs a landscape and gardening business cutting lawns and pruning bushes for the rich elite of the town, and her aunts and uncles work at a chicken plant. Alma wants nothing more than to get a good education and get the hell out of her oppressive hometown, which doesn’t happen to take kindly to undocumented immigrant. Then she meets Evan, who just so happens to be one of her father’s clients. They fall fast and furiously in love, which would be just peachy if not for two things:

1) He’s white, rich, and everything Alma’s family tries so hard to avoid.

2)He just so happens to be the nephew of a powerful senator who wants nothing more than to send families like Alma’s back to where they came from.

But just Shakespeare’s infamous star-crossed lovers, they can’t deny or hide their feelings. But when something happens to Alma’s family, will the old saying of “love conquers all” still ring true?

I was interested in reading this book for a variety of reasons. I happen to live in an area that has a high concentration of Latino immigrants (and undocumented immigrants), and many of the issues addressed in this book pertaining to Alma’s family are also ongoing issues here in our community. I was curious to see how a YA author would handle a topic like this with the sensitivity and honesty I was hoping for. And for the most part, the author actually did. The author took us into the lives of those living in the shadows and constant fear of being discovered and being sent back to the countries they tried to hard to escape from in order to live a better life, and/or create one for their families. That despite what some people believe, the immigrants coming into this country are, for the most part, hardworking honest individuals who just want something better for themselves and the ones they loved. I got the faint sense of that when I was reading, but not enough to quench my appetite.

Obviously, the main focal point of this book was the romance, but to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t even call it a romance. To me, it was more of a lust-mance. At least that’s the impression I got from the way the author wrote the Evan and Alma’s interactions with one another, particularly when it came to Evan. Such as their VERY FIRST INTERACTION.
”Her silky hair was pulled into a ponytail that fell to the middle of her back and he felt the urge to touch it, to let his hands tail all the way down her body.”
I could see this being written down in some bodice ripper or steamy new adult romance, but a young adult romance dealing with immigration reform? No. And it doesn’t stop there, folks. The second interaction is even better.
”Her dark, shining hair flowed down to the middle of her back, but a few strands fell forward to brush her perfect breasts.”
Dude, I know that teenage boys can be horny but STAHP ALREADY! How am I supposed to be convinced that these two are teenage soulmates who could hypothetically spend the next sixty years if he keeps going on about her boobs?
”He wasn’t touching her, but her skin, so alive, felt as if it were being caressed in a thousand different places.”
I’ve recently dipped my toes into the historical romance and bodice ripper genres and have developed a tolerance for more of the intense love scenes. With this book, I found myself openly cringing at the descriptions of the kissing scenes, and I’m not one to do that with YA books. EVER. So the author has a wee bit of work to do with those descriptions.

Evan and Alma were marginally likable characters, but once they fell into their lust-mance with each other, they kind of ceased to be rationally thinking characters, as YA romances tend to make their main characters do.

The book also kind of deviated from it’s own topic to either focus on the romance, or side characters that I was not even remotely interested in. And why the author decided to have one of the side characters to something as despicable as sexual assault AND HAVE THE AUDACITY TO BRUSH IT OFF will never make sense to me. Not to mention, despite the author trying to dispel Latino stereotypes in her book, she made Mrs. King the most cringeworthy African American woman stereotype imaginable. As in, every other word out of her mouth was ‘child’ or ‘Lord Jesus’, donut eating, Baptist worshiping angry black woman we unfortunately read about. I mean, really?

If anything, this book would have gotten a three stars from me because up until this point. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t the best, albite cringeworthy at times due to teenage hormones going into overdrive. However, that opinion went straight out the window when I got to pg. 243.


The latter half of the book completely ruined it for me, turning an average romantic read into something I was literally cringing my way through. If you’re expecting a book that focuses on the important issues with a little side of romance, you’ll get the exact opposite. And if you’re hoping for characters to act rationally and logically, then you’ll be horribly disappointed.

And remember, don’t eat the tamales with the corn husks on. As much time as it takes to make those suckers, they’re not meant to be eaten with the husks on, haha!!
Profile Image for Beck.
298 reviews170 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
August 14, 2015
The first strike was describing skin color with FOOD.
The second strike was "Evan resisted the overwhelming temptation to look down at her vulnerable, almost naked body" and then shoving a t-shirt at her to cover herself up because apparently she looked too good in the bikini that she was wearing TO GO SWIMMING.

The final thing was just so much manufactured sexual tension that did not really work at all and came on extremely fast. It just wasn't believable.

It's not a bad book, but I thought I would like it more. It's just not my thing, I guess. I thought the particular cultural lens would help, but I just felt like it was comparing Alma's family's very real struggles for employment and childcare and education with Evan's "boo hoo my mom wants me to go to a charity dinner" whinging.
Profile Image for Jessica Brooks.
Author 6 books75 followers
January 23, 2016
2.5 stars (for GR, because, with GR's rating system, 2 stars = "it was okay")*

Dream Things True is an interesting book. On one hand, it's all about immigration. On another, it's about how people with completely different backgrounds can come together, find something important in each other, and look out for one another. It's also about standing up for what you believe in, facing your mistakes, and righting your wrongs. So there's a lot going on, but a lot of the side plot doesn't really come to light until around the halfway mark.

I enjoyed the standing up for what you believe in, the side characters, and the righting of wrongs (though one part was also done illegally, which made me realize that so much of the storyline's values were blurry as decisions were made not according to what should be done, but what the characters felt like doing--more on that below); and it pains me to say that my least favorite part of the entire book was the focus on immigration. It was the main storyline, so I understand that that was the point, but the execution came across a bit pushy.

Though I felt sorry for Alma's situation, I was never able to fully connect to her/her family. Ms. Marquardt definitely tried to get the reader to understand the laws of immigration and see how biased the local townspeople (law enforcement, politicians, and so on) were being, and she explored consequences of breaking the laws, but even so, though most of the time, decisions/actions made against the illegal immigrants seemed unfair from a HEART's point of view, they were still, at the end of the day, (mostly) legal. (Notice I said "mostly". There were a lot of instances where Evan and/or his cohorts were given preferential treatment when they did illegal things, and of course, that was definitely not cool.)

Basically, it's kind of like someone sneaking into a supermarket, deciding to live there and eat the food, drive the supermarket's delivery trucks, invite the rest of the family to move in, and do other things obviously and blatantly not legal; then not understand why doing all of that was not okay, because, hey, they needed food. (You understand where I'm coming from? Heart strings vs. right and wrong, legal or illegal. Is it fair for them to be hungry? No. Is it fair for their families to be? No. Is it fair that they aren't given the same opportunities? No. Does all of that then make it right to do things not legal? No.) Which is what made DTT difficult for me. Because I felt Ms. Marquardt trying to pull out that sympathy card over and over, and while I felt it to a certain extent, I also didn't. Maybe that was in the way the story was told. I don't know. All I know is it almost felt as though that was not a learning experience, but a part of the story being shoved down my throat.

Another issue I had was understanding all of the Spanish. There were hardly any specific translations, and though I was able to pick up the gist of most of it, I still didn't understand a lot. What was the point of so much of it if we weren't supposed to know what they were saying? Whose choice was it to leave us all in the dark? So getting the convos, it might have helped me connect to her family more. I'm not sure.

Am I glad I read Dream Things True? Mostly. Did I have to finish it to see how everything got tied up? I did. Will I recommend this to anyone looking for a modern Romeo and Juliet story? No. Will I recommend it to anyone wanting to submerge themselves in Mexican culture, romance between two completely different cultures, or people interested in immigration? That would be an emphatic yes.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,198 reviews200 followers
August 11, 2022
DREAM THINGS TRUE is a modern day ROMEO AND JULIET. Alma is an undocumented Mexican girl who has lived with her family in America since she was two-years-old. Evan is a rich Southern boy who wants for nothing. He is a soccer star at his high school and she is his landscaper's daughter. Alma wants to go to college but is afraid if she applies, her family will be sent back to Mexico. Evan's uncle is a senator who is firmly supporting a law against illegal immigrants. What could possibly go wrong, right? Evan is trying to teach everyone around him, including Alma, not to judge a book by its cover.

Being an undocumented girl is very hard for Alma. She is only trying to make her life better, but at what cost? Alma and her family live in constant fear and they are treated like common criminals and don't really have any rights, even though they just want a better life. Alma loses herself in her school work so she doesn't have to think about what could happen if they are caught in America. DREAM THINGS TRUE is a very realistic story that is going to break your heart one second and have you cheering for Alma and Evan the next. Their story is one that must be told and must be read.

DREAM THINGS TRUE is a real page turner and you can't help but caught up in the lives of Alma and Evan. Marie Marquardt does a fabulous job of bringing the horror of The United States Immigration policies to the reader. Will Evan be able to keep Alma's secret if she tells him? Will he go running to his powerful political family and get Alma's family sent back to Mexico? I finished DREAM THINGS TRUE with tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat. I'm looking forward to reading more by Marie Marquardt. While reading, I couldn't help but hope that Alma and her family would find their brighter future and better life.
Profile Image for Reading is my Escape.
895 reviews47 followers
March 19, 2017
Alma thought back to the day she learned that she wasn’t in status – that she was a person who was here but not welcome, embedded in this place, but also somehow apart from it.

None of it mattered. None of it mattered because she was, as she had always known, one of the kids stuck in between.

Alma is a junior in high school, brilliant, with a bright future, but her family is undocumented and the threat of ICE is always looming. Alma wants to tell her new boyfriend, Evan, but she is ashamed, and his uncle is pushing for a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

I read this book for my multicultural lit class. Alma is a feisty girl and I like her. Her life is difficult, but she has a large community supporting her. Alma’s parents just wanted to give her and her brother a better life, and they took a big chance by coming to the United States. This a good example of perseverance in a difficult situation. And the ending wasn't oversimplified.

This is a good book for teens to read. It may help them sympathize with the plight of illegal immigrants. Also, teens will see that the characters are just like them and experience similar feelings. I read three books on this issue for an essay I did for class. In all three books, the main characters dealt with shame and feelings of not belonging anywhere.

A good multicultural book for anyone to read, especially now.
Profile Image for Mrs. Aloise.
9 reviews2 followers
May 31, 2015
Alma's family is full of secrets while Evan's is full of expectations. He's a soccer star from the privileged part of town and she's the landscaper's daughter. She wants to go to college, but is afraid that her family will be sent back to Mexico if she applies. He is expected to take an athletic scholarship. This is a heartfelt story about what happens when two young adults from very different backgrounds fall in love. This is a strong story with sympathetic characters. I learned so much from Alma's family about the struggle and fear of undocumented workers. This is a story that needs to be read.
Profile Image for Summer.
202 reviews124 followers
July 19, 2017
Later rerated to*: 3 Stars

*I'm rerating a lot of the books I read in the past to fit my current taste. Most of the time it's downrating books that I thought I really liked at the time but there are a few exceptions. :) And it'd be too much to try to reflect these changes on my blog, so the ratings will remain as the original ones on Xingsings.

3.5 Stars, Completed September 8, 2015

Dream Things True is a modern Romeo and Juliet-esque story about a wealthy, privileged southern boy falling in love with an undocumented Mexican girl. Evan seems to live the perfect golden boy life as a soccer star and nephew of a widely-supported, conservative senator. When Evan meets Alma he begins to question the family figures he’s admired growing up and he becomes caught up in complicated issues he’s never considered before. ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) tightens security on the borders and raids the counties of Gilberton, Georgia for undocumented individuals, making things much more difficult for Alma and her family. As Evan and Alma, get to know each other, Alma struggles with composing the right words to reveal her true identity to Evan. With facing the complications of immigration and tangled bureaucracies, will Evan and Alma be able to overcome these obstacles?

Like in Romeo and Juliet, every character in this book is incredibly flawed, yet unlike the Shakespeare work I actually ended up feeling great sympathy for them if not a connection. I live in a primarily white dominant community, so I was raised and schooled with people like Evan, the rich country club and charity auction goers. However, I did have some friends similar to Alma, the population that didn’t quite fit in. I thought Marquardt did a fantastic job with attempting to display the two very different perspectives.

Even though the writing had its own uniqueness, I wasn’t a big fan of it. Dream Things True is told in an awkward dual perspective alternating between Evan and Alma. The narration often switches mid-chapter so I found it a little disconcerting, but after a few chapters the abrupt transitions were not a big deal for me. Also, there was a good bit of Spanish woven into the dialogue, which is something I’m sure a lot of readers that can understand Spanish would appreciate. Since I only know the elementary basics of Spanish having taken the language when I was in my primary school, which was 10+ years ago, I was often times lost. Thankfully, these Spanish phrases were translated so it didn’t hinder my reading experience entirely.

Evan and Alma’s relationship progressed abnormally quickly, which made me feel a tad uncomfortable. I know that many boys (and girls too) are often hormone-driven during their teenage years but I found it too odd that when Evan first met Alma he was already driven by the desire to touch her-this first encounter was in a span of a couple of minutes, mind you. For that reason, I didn’t find Evan the sweet, swoon-worthy boyfriend material, which is the prototype I tend to prefer in these type of romances. Instead, their relationship was one dimensional because of this insta-lust in my opinion. So I felt like there were moments where the immigration issue could have been more focused on but instead readers got a lot of “oh, this girl is so special and not like any other I’ve known before” and “I love him but I shouldn’t,” inspired Romeo and Juliet scenes. I know that romance can be a great contributing factor for some readers-me included, admittedly-but I think a non-romantic relationship would have worked well for Dream Things True actually.

On the other hand, though Alma had her flaws and experienced moments of Juliet syndrome, I really enjoyed her point of view in the story. She’s a coffee addict, honest, and new to young love and dating. Also, she defies all stereotypes on the girls of her race. Also the fact that Alma grew up in the States most of her life, made her more American than Mexican at times, which made her and her brother more special in comparison to the other undocumented teenagers in the novel. Her “coming out” about her undocumented status and confession that she didn’t really fit anywhere-Mexico not being her “home” since she was two years old and the States being a tedious, temporary “home” was realistically honest and plausible.

My favorite character in Dream Things True was definitely the witty, sarcastic Whit. He’s everything that his dad, the conservative southern senator, isn’t. Whit acknowledges the complex issues that brew around him head on-with an unbiased political view. He’s also a closet intellect, openminded and embraces diversity, and speaks flawless Spanish (he was adored by all the Mexican grandmothers of the story because of his eloquence). Even so, Whit’s character is not any less broken than the other characters. After the events of last summer and his addiction to drugs and alcohol, he’s been lost and nursing pent up remorse. It’s not until the very end do the readers see him accept rehab, heal, and make amends for things he’s done. Whit is the character that highlighted important points such as standing up for what you believe in and righting your wrongs. I wish Alma was the face for this campaign, but the branded “good for nothing” Whit surprised me for his premature wisdom, self-awareness, and redemption.

Was the ending a tragic Romeo and Juliet “till death do us part” type? Fortunately, no. Most of the side plots were wrapped up cleanly, but Evan and Alma’s story remained open-ended or rather the book sort of just ended after a momentous scene. In that final scene readers realize why the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of La Leche, was so important to the Garcia family. And even though there’s no dramatic death, there’s also no sense of redemption to look forward to for the main storyline. But there is hope for Alma’s character and her future. So overall I was pretty pleased with the ending.

I give Dream Things True full marks on exploring and encompassing tedious subjects such as immigration, tangled bureaucracies, racism, and other prevalent issues in society today. Sure, not all aspects of these issues were tackled, but overall I think it serves a great introduction for those interested in these complex topics, particularly immigration. The incorporation of Spanish surely will wow some readers and the dual persepective did serve to display two very different point of views. Also, like all Shakespeare romantic tragedies there’s some drama and comedy. So if you’re into that, I recommend this book for those reasons as well.


Special thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin for allowing me to participate in this blog tour and sending me this review copy of Dream Things True. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.


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Profile Image for Mitchii.
802 reviews259 followers
July 15, 2015
I had that sudden impulse to discontinue when things went too mushy way too quickly. But I pushed through the initial discontentment thinking maybe there was reason why it needed to establish the relationship quite early in the game. Well, there was, but to me, the romance as merely an accessory to the conflict later on & that didn’t totally satisfy me.

This book has that kind of set-up where the boy is from an esteemed family that fell in love with the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. One would already guess that there’s be gonna lot of hindrances ahead. For one, the guy was the nephew of senator that firmly supported law against illegal immigrants; and so, it was the quite an irony when he fell in love with a girl who was undocumented. They were eager to find a way to make her legal, even though at the start she felt hopeless that she’ll able to have that status. But for him, he’ll find a way for them to be together.

It was really tough on her part; living in constant fear that they’ll be caught. Being an undocumented brought lot of consequences even if their only desire was to have a better life. I knew a bit about illegal immigrants. I’ve watched few documentaries regarding Filipinos living abroad illegally. And I can’t completely fault them on their wish to better their lives (even if the method was wrong). Life here in my country is hard; seeking for greener for pasture in order to survive is a choice they need to make. There are legal ways but it’ll take time—long time. So at most, I understand the girl’s struggles and difficulties more than the guy’s drama at home. He did have some burdens but I think it wasn’t as significant as the girl’s.

The fast romantic development paved way to making their decisions more concrete; as if reasoning their feelings for each other as an adjunction to the possible answers to their problems. The guy was willing to sacrifice for her, to give him her his name so they can’t be apart, but she opted out. Even with her sound intention, the thin relationship development made it so unconvincing (guy went saying something like it came from John Meyer’s Your Body Is A Wonderland lyrics & that sudden protectiveness; and I was only at page 34!). Although I kind of understand her (but at some selfish thought I still saw it as passing a chance & as I said, they guy was so keen to give her security). But in the end, their decision sort of made sense; probably not the most ideal for some but willing to start on clean slate is I think what they really need (after all that happened).

Originally published at The Aeropapers.
Profile Image for Stacy Moll.
261 reviews1 follower
September 12, 2023
The topic of this book couldn't have better timing. This is a subject that seems to divide everyone, and each side is very passionate about what they believe. I for one feel strongly, that if I lived in a place that didn't have much to offer my children and was violent, I would do anything in my power to get them to a place that would allow them the best life they could have. A also do not think that the majority of illegal people are criminals, they just want a better life. Additionally, I'm tired of hearing that they are stealing jobs, let's be honest, most "legal"citizens wouldn't do the work undocumented workers do! Why wouldn't we want hard working, family loving, God fearing people coming to America? If you ask me, we need more of them and less of what we have here already.

I do not know if there will be another book or if we are left to decide for ourselves if Evan and Alma ever get to be together. I hope that she gets to come back to America and things work out for her whole family. I'm pulling for all of them to have a happy ending!

This book comes out today. It is worth a visit to your bookstore!
Profile Image for A.L. Player.
Author 1 book66 followers
April 6, 2015
(Review based on an ARC.)

Absolutely gorgeous! A touching love story, beautifully written, which sheds a light on the many difficulties faced by people who come to the US searching for a better life. Still, the book never feels preachy or overly dramatic. Alma and Evan are each endearing characters in their own right; they're warm and real. I also particularly loved Whit and Mary Catherine. I couldn't put the book down!
Profile Image for joey (thoughts and afterthoughts).
139 reviews145 followers
August 21, 2015
[See the full review at thoughts and afterthoughts.]

Rating: 3/5

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:
— Set in Georgia (USA) and encompasses POC (Mexican) families, undocumented immigrants, race and discrimination, power and privilege, drugs, rape, and exoticism, among others
— Narrative is told in sporadic alternating perspectives between both MCs; writing integrates Spanish dialogue
— The romance jumps the gun; a bit instalust-y after a few chapters
— If you’ve seen “The Proposal” (with Bullock/Reynolds), it feels like a toned down YA version of that
— An important diverse read with revelations that seem a bit easy but speaks to the concern of white privilege; it’s a bit of a toss-up in terms of enjoyment

Initial Thoughts:
Dream Things True is a very difficult book to review.

Full disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of Dream Things True through Netgalley for an honest review. I extend thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me with the opportunity to review this book.

March 3, 2018
An important story about young love and undocumented families, In today's climate this book is even more relevant. It is one that tugs at the heartstrings. It captures what young love looks like and has a positive outlook. The characters are those you will fall in love with, root for and relate to. I think that this is an important read that both adults and young adults will love.
Profile Image for Andrea at Reading Lark.
950 reviews81 followers
August 16, 2015
Review Posted on Reading Lark 8/15/15: http://readinglark.blogspot.com/2015/...

Alma is the youngest daughter in a hard working Mexican family in Georgia. Her entire family works in the small community of Gilberton, Georgia in various labor intensive roles including landscaping and working at the local poultry plant. Alma craves more for her life. She wants college and a career not chicken feathers and fear. Alma and her family live with a constant cloud hanging over them due to their undocumented status. If anyone finds out that they are in the United States illegally, the family will be deported. Alma throws herself into her school work to avoid thinking about what could happen, but things begin to change in her life when she meets the handsome and wealthy Evan.

Evan is the All American sort - he's handsome, comes from a prominent Southern family with political roots, and is a star athlete. He could have his pick of girls at Gilberton High, but there is something about Alma that he can't ignore. From the first moment he meets her, he finds that he craves more time in her presence. The two strike up an unlikely friendship which soon becomes more romantic than plutonic.

Alma and Evan must navigate the tricky waters of being together when they come from two vastly different worlds. I enjoyed seeing the immigration issue from a different perspective. So many times we only hear the voices of Americans and politicians. It's rare that the undocumented person tells their story. Immigration is such a huge topic in the United States right now that I feel we need more novels like this one. It was also nice to see a Hispanic main character.

One of my favorite aspects about reading this one was the setting. While Gilberton is fictional, I did see glimpses of real towns in Georgia in some of the physical aspects of the setting such as the high school. I was curious if my hunches about the location were correct so I sent a message to the author. She was kind enough to respond that Gilberton was created from a collection of influences in the North Georgia area, but the town that I was thinking of was indeed one of those influences. This allowed me to root myself in Alma and Evan's story in a more authentic way.

I was also intrigued by the underlying dialogue about education in my state. There are positives and negatives to the school systems in Georgia, but I hope that more of them will be understanding to the needs of their diverse student bodies.

Overall, I enjoyed this modern and relevant Romeo and Juliet-esque tale. Alma's situation was precarious and heartbreaking. I would recommend this one to readers who are interested in the lives of undocumented peoples or those who enjoy diverse main characters.

One Last Gripe: I was a little put off that Evan and Alma rushed into romance so quickly. I wanted to see more of a friendship develop between these two.

Favorite Thing About This Book: I always enjoy stories where a previously unheard from person drives the narration. Marquardt gives a voice to a group that has been denied one.

First Sentence: If you grab a machete blade near the bottom, just above the handle, it won't cut through your skin.

Favorite Character: Alma

Least Favorite Character: Conway
Profile Image for Stefani Sloma.
405 reviews120 followers
December 17, 2015
Dream Things True is essentially a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet but the boy is a white, upper-middle-class son of a senator and the girl is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. In terms of the characters, I really appreciated how flawed everyone was, because it felt real and relatable, even though my life falls nowhere near either of these characters.

I’m sure most of you won’t be surprised when I say one of my main issues was the relationship – because it developed WAY too quickly. There was a bit of instalove instalust almost right away, and it made me pretty uncomfortable. I think this took the focus away from the actual issues in the book and I would’ve appreciated a little less of the Romeo and Juliet inspiration here. I think the book could’ve benefited a lot had the (somewhat forced) relationship not driven the plot so much.

My favorite character is hands-down Whit. He was witty and smart, open-minded and oh-so-flawed, but that’s why I loved him. He was real. He stood up for what he believed in, and although he did some terrible things, he acknowledged what he’d done and worked towards fixing it. I also appreciated Alma a lot; she was honest and young and felt very realistic to me. I honestly probably could have done without Evan’s perspective though.

I appreciated the end of this one as well. Marie obviously knows what she’s talking about, and I think she did a great job of properly representing the tediousness of immigration and race and the issues surrounding it. I really respect the fact that Marie just presented the story as is – this is what happens and this is how our society is. I do feel like we could’ve gone a little bit deeper into some of the issues, however.

The bottom line: Dream Things True is a realistic, complex, dramatic, engaging story of immigration and young love. I had some issues with it, but I enjoyed it overall, and I would recommend it to fans of romantic tragedies.
191 reviews34 followers
August 16, 2015
As someone very familiar with undocumented immigrants and their movement, I was expecting a deeper, more involving story. I think the book does touch on this issue extensively, but at the same time, it wasn't anything new. It follows the Romeo and Juliet story from both perspectives, when I think it could've benefited more from just staying in Alma's perspective. However, I do think it's well-written and worth a read. Many could find this book and its themes enlightening.
Profile Image for deb22luvsbooks.
721 reviews29 followers
September 21, 2015
While I enjoyed this story that was sort of a re telling of Romeo and Juliet on modern times, the fact that the book dealt so heavily in immigration issues, took a little away from the love story being told. There was a nice juxtipitation between the two families lives, one of privilege and one of migrant workers. The characters were well written, along with supporting characters. All in all this is a nice story, with a background that shows the struggles of undocumented families.
Profile Image for Danielle (Love at First Page).
726 reviews621 followers
Shelved as 'lost-interest-did-not-finish'
December 17, 2015
I had to sadly DNF this one. The writing just wasn't clicking with me and the romance was bland and uninspired. I made it to about 20%, started skimming, and eventually called it quits around 50%. I think readers who can ignore the romance may find something of value in the book's discussion on illegal immigration and undocumented workers.
Profile Image for Nina Rossing.
Author 5 books185 followers
July 14, 2015
Lovely book about an undocumented immigrant girl who falls in love with a boy from an affluent and influential family. Sounds a bit cliche, perhaps, but the story is realistic, at times heartbreaking, and the two protagonists are completely believable. There are a few minor plots that weren't necessary, but okay. This is a good book.
Profile Image for Marlene.
124 reviews24 followers
September 30, 2015
I refuse to accept an ending like that. I need an epilogue!!
Profile Image for Diversireads.
115 reviews26 followers
February 12, 2016
disclaimer: this novel was provided to me by the publisher via netgalley, but all opinions are my own

It’s clear from her writing that Marie Marquardt has plenty of experience working for and with undocumented immigrants – her novel is an addictive and emotionally fraught depiction of the United State’s frustrating, discriminatory, and obstructive legal policy towards undocumented immigrants. The novel is a politically nuanced exploration of the relationship between a bright young girl whose political status prevents her from taking many of the opportunities she has earned and a wealthy boy whose family makes up the southern Old Guard, whose conservative upbringing clashes with his current values. Yet, for me, it was a mixed bag of positives and negatives.

While the novel’s premise kept me interested, I think the novel was more successful as a treatise against the unjust policies against undocumented immigrants that it was as – well – a novel. The plot was predictable, but I think justifiably so, and I don’t actually have an issue with predictable plots so long as they aren’t boring (and this one wasn’t), so it wasn’t that. Marquardt’s writing was also not blatantly racist (though I do feel like some of her writing and her characters engage with stereotypes of Latinx people, and there are some rather patronising characters whose condescension are treated as positive character traits), so it wasn’t that.

My biggest issue was the emotional disconnect I felt between myself and the characters. In a good novel, the reader should be able to identify aspects of themselves in characters who they seemingly have nothing in common with. The problem with Dream Things True, though, was that the characters seemed hollow; like empty shells instead of beings with souls to tie them to mortality. You know how in badly acted soap operas, there is always a layer of self awareness between the actor and the audience? Where the actor does not blend into the character, they are merely wearing the skin and saying the words of the character, and it seems unnatural because of that?

That’s what it felt like, most of the time. Like Alma knew she had to inhabit the role of Strong Sassy Sarcastic YA Female Protagonist of Colour, and acted accordingly (I did enjoy her assertiveness, though not her typical YA Protagonist “smarts,” where intelligence serves as shorthand for “pretentious and dismissive of everyone else”). And Evan knew that he was the Right Side of the Tracks High Expectations Southern Rich Boy Love Interest, and acted accordingly. Their first interactions, the rapidity with which they fell in love, the speed with which they began to Share All, the comfort they exhibited with each other within mere days of meeting – none of it rang true for me, especially as a fellow diaspora girl of colour. It seemed staged, performative, as if they were aware that they were in a YA novel, and this was how they were expected to act.

I couldn’t buy the basis of their attraction, to be quite honest. The first line introducing Evan and Alma has him objectifying her (and the objectification never stops, not really), and at many points in the novel, Marquardt makes a point of emphasising how difficult it is for Evan to resist touching Alma, how much self control he needed to keep his hands off her. Yes, it is also mentioned that he is no saint for having the basic human decency of not touching her without her consent, but the emphasis on just how incredibly difficult it is does not so much increase Alma’s sexual appeal* as it does perpetrate the idea that men somehow become animals, controlled by uncontrollable base instinct when they so much as see an exposed breast (which, incidentally, is often how we as a culture excuse rapists and sexual assaulters of all genders).

Another thing I was discomforted by was the almost…noncommittal treatment of sexual assault in the novel. The only times sexual assault & rape were treated with the gravity and sensitivity it always requires were when Alma believes she has been a victim of it, and when another character confesses to it, yet it is in a context where we are expected to feel sympathetic towards the aggressor (and he is one of two; the way the novel frames it is also disconcerting, because one was treated like the True Villain while the other remains a protagonist, but beyond a five-page wrap-up of her story, the actual victim of the assault remains largely on the periphery – any of her issues that may have been caused by her assault were glossed over in favour of the issues of her rapist). And the victim of the assault is briefly brought back in large part so that the audience can see one of her rapists absolve and redeem himself to the reader.

These – and more, though it feels rather excessive if I go on for much longer – are problems I had with this novel. But this does not mean that I do not see its value – in a country where deportations are alarmingly common, where families are broken up and children sent to countries they no longer remember because of outdated and discriminatory immigration laws, narratives like these are incredibly important. They highlight the difficulty that many people face, and the limited options available to undocumented residents of the “land of opportunity.”

And I think in particular, Marquardt captures the hypocrisies of the justice system, as well as its dehumanising and alienating effect, very well. Alma is presented with frustratingly few options, none of which are ideal, nor indeed fair. She is caught truly between a rock and a hard place, between an impossible present and a limiting future, and this is something that has indubitably been experienced by thousands upon thousands of people. I do think the novel highlights what an emotionally exhaustive process it is, and just how damning it can be. And I think that the greatest strength of this novel is that it allows people – myself included – who have previously had no comprehensive understanding of what the detainment and deportation of undocumented immigrants by the ICE entailed – to have some measure of understanding, some resonance and empathy towards the real people who face this daily.

Speaking frankly, it’s a novel that I wouldn’t encourage or discourage people from reading. It really all depends on your interest level in the topic and your own personal tastes.

*I was also a little put off by this. Granted, I am an ace with limited understanding of how sexual attraction works, but I’m a little troubled by the constant reinforcement of Alma’s sexual desirability by Evan given that she is a sixteen year old child, and given that young Latina women are often hypersexualised in popular culture.
Profile Image for Abi.
2,021 reviews
January 10, 2019
3.5 stars.

This book is incredibly relevant - it primarily discusses the impacts and realities of the lives of undocumented immigrants, ICE, and cross-cultural relationships. It also discusses broken families, addiction and sexual assault. The last two are with side characters. This book was not an easy read. The writing flowed well, but the topics were hard, and it was very emotional.

I liked most of the side characters, such as Mary Catherine and Whit. They were cool, and Whit was pretty well developed. He was honestly probably my favorite character, as while I liked Alma and Evan, I thought they were a little boring, and I didn't connect with them a ton. I felt like the story focused more on their relationships with their families and each other than them on their own, as people. It made it harder for me to empathize with them.

I thought the ending was realistic, and I was a bit frustrated but I also think that it was done well enough. It showed the lack of quick fixes. And I'm glad that, despite trials, tribulations, and breaks, Alma and Evan ended up together. They were cute. If I could describe this book in three words, they would be raw, emotional, and relevant.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,939 reviews147 followers
July 18, 2019
Okay, so I think this is an important book and a lot of teens should read it. It gives a lot of good and valid information about immigration and being undocumented as well as sexual assault. I absolutely loved the way the Spanish was done in this. Not everything was translated or repeated. There was enough so that non-spanish speakers could still understand, but it just let it happen and I loved that. I feel like Spanish in books can be very stilted, but I didn't get that from this book.

Overall this story dragged on for me. I found some of the romance to be cringy and I felt like it dragged in some parts. It got better towards part three and I think the ending was pretty good. In reality my enjoyment was more of a 2, but I don't want to discredit the importance of this book.
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