by Marie Marquardt
Published on September 1
by St Martin's Griffin
Source: eARC from publisher via NetGalley
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.My review: I was super-excited to try about this book about a relationship between an undocumented girl and an upper middle class boy. While I liked learning more about the life of the undocumented, the mix of romance and issues in this story was a combination that didn't work for me.
The book's POV-- close third person that alternates between Evan's narrative and Alma's --felt distancing and awkward. And the romance just had an odd quality that I couldn't get past. Their attraction to each other felt sudden and unexplained, and the way Evan looked at and thought about Alma -- mostly in terms of the shapeliness of her body -- kind of weirded me out.
Immigration is a topical (and divisive) issue, and it's 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 weird vibe) kept me at somewhat of a distance from Alma's community and their plight.
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 a different romantic feel (or just friendship that slowly built into romance) 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.
by Dawn Ius
Published by Simon Pulse
on September 1, 2015
Source: eARC from publisher via Edelweiss
Synopsis from Goodreads: Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved. Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life. Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him. Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?My take: My favorite thing about retellings is seeing how the author translates one story (the ill-fated relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn) to a new setting (a contemporary private high school.) Anne & Henry had some elements I really liked - Anne Boleyn's character was translated into an eyebrow-raising, motorcycle riding teenage rebel. It was interesting to see how the real-life people of the time were brought into the book (think The Tudors meets Gossip Girl.) The writing was good and there was some good, fun scene-setting, like a sexy costume party and a romantic scene at an abandoned theater.
I guess my main problem with Anne & Henry was that, while I could understand why real life Anne might have been interested in real life Henry, I could never really understand why this high school Anne was interested in high school president Henry. She was cool and edgy and fun, and he was a boring mama's boy and pretty much of a jerk. While it would be pretty hard to recreate the sky-high stakes of the original story, I thought this could have come closer if the romance had felt hotter and more desperate.
I do recommend this to Tudor-philes as it was fun to see how the Tudor Court was translated to modern day life at Medina Academy, and I look forward to seeing what Dawn Ius writes next!
Both of these will be up for grabs on future Freebie Friday, so stay tuned!