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M.T.’s got a secret. Two, really. She hates her full name (Monserrat Thalia), so she goes by her initials. But there’s something more, something way bigger, that threatens everything she wants for her future: she’s an undocumented immigrant.
It’s getting 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. 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.
Told in M.T.’s darkly funny voice and full of nuanced characters, The Secret Side of Empty is a poignant but unsentimental look at what it’s like to live as an “illegal” immigrant, how we’re shaped by the secrets we keep, and the unexpected paths to the triumph of the human spirit.
Read a Q&A with Author Maria E. Andreu:
The Secret Side of Empty in the news
With immigration a topic in the news, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY continues to be relevant to those who want to understand the human side of a policy question. Who is caught in our system? And how does that feel? Click here to see the latest news on THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY.
How does it feel to be a Dreamer? Here’s a taste:
You are six months old. Your mother wraps you in a hand-knit blanket her sister gave you and heads off on a long trip.
Maybe she’s hungry, tired of struggling. Maybe she fears her life and yours are in danger from the violence all around her. Or maybe not. You don’t know. You’re six months old.
She gets you to America, where your father waits. He came before you to find a place to live. They pick up a bassinet someone put out by the curb – Americans throw out perfectly good things! they exclaim to each other with wide eyes. Where they come from, no one throws out something that still works because they just want a new one. They clean it carefully, to make sure you are safe in it, and wish they had enough money to buy you your own.
You are two and a half years old now. You answer them in their language when they speak to you in it, but all your original thoughts come from the TV – the sassy line that makes everyone laugh, the commercial jingle. As you get older, you speak less and less in your parents’ language, and more and more in the one that you will one day consider your own.
The Secret Side of Empty
Maria E. Andreu