Blog Tour: Dream Things True

Author: Marie Marquardt
Genre: Contemporary
Page Length: 352 Pages
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: eARC via Netgalley
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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.


1. What inspired you to write Dream Things True?

I was inspired to write this story by the undocumented immigrant kids I have had the honor of knowing. It’s been an honor to watch them grow up and thrive against the odds.

Because I’ve written non-fiction books about undocumented immigration, I often get asked to talk with groups of non-immigrants about these issues. I know a lot of facts and figures, and these help people think about immigration in new ways, but I find that what really matters is relationship – knowing and loving a person who faces these issues is what makes a person care. Not everyone gets the chance to know and love an undocumented immigrant, but fiction can give us all the opportunity to step into others’ lives – in this case, the lives of undocumented immigrants and the people who love them. This is powerful, and I believe it is so important – it helps us to overcome all of the politicized rhetoric, and simply see each other as human beings deserving of love and respect.

2. Romeo and Juliet is quite a famous literary couple. What are some of your favorite book couples?

Where to begin? Elizabeth and Darcy come to mind… I love reading contemporary Young Adult, so many of my favorite couples come from YA novels: Anna and St. Clair (from Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss), Noah and Brian (from Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun), and Ellie and Mikey (from one of my all-time favorite books, Jenny Downham’s You Against Me) are a few of my favorites.

3. Did you do any research for your novel?

I’ve been doing research with undocumented immigrants in the South for almost two decades, but it’s been as an academic/ college professor. For Dream Things True, I drew on all of that research. I did have to work a bit on getting the legal pieces of the story right, because immigration law is extraordinarily complicated. I interviewed a few immigration attorneys and paralegals to get it all straight.

4. What was the hardest part of writing this novel? The easiest?

Well, here’s a little confession: I have never played an organized sport. I mean, never. So the hardest part of getting this story onto paper was not writing the heart-wrenching love scenes – they were easy. It was writing the soccer scenes (and don’t even get me started on golf!). I spent days reading sports journalism, and then, after attempting to write realistic scenes, I relied heavily on my sister—a soccer fanatic—to make sure all the players were in the right place at the right time.

5. What do you hope people will take away from reading Dream Things True?

This book is about a very controversial topic: undocumented immigration. I don’t want to tell people what or how to think about this issue. But I do want for people to be well informed. I hope that after finishing DREAM THINGS TRUE, readers will seek good information, have thoughtful conversations, and strive to find and support real solutions – ones that take into account the actual causes and consequences of undocumented immigration. But, mostly, I hope that when people hear all of the sound bites on the media and in politics, they will remember that behind all that rhetoric are millions of stories of real people making hard choices in tough circumstances.


“In this YA debut, immigration activist Marquardt knowledgably takes on the plight of undocumented families in the U.S. Readers seeking a star-crossed love story with a twist won’t be disappointed.” —Publishers Weekly

“Various aspects of undocumented immigration are explored: the economic factors influencing the decision to come to the United States, the often harrowing journey, the exploitation upon arrival, and the political factors that influence policy… [A] worthy examination of undocumented immigration in the American South through the lens of young love.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Marquardt provides a critical view of the stigmas and difficulties plaguing undocumented youth in U.S. schools without glossing over the legal realities of deportation and detainment.” School Library Journal

“Marquardt's Dream Things True vividly weaves to life the thrill of falling in love in the South while awakening readers to the struggles of US-Mexican immigration policies. In this touching coming-of-age story, full of hope and possibilities, Marquardt captures the bittersweet world of undocumented teens living in the US and the power of true love.”

—Malin Alegria, author of Estrella’s QuinceaƱera and the Border Town series

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt is a story that must be told and needs to be read.  With sensitivity and care, Marquardt deftly illustrates the struggles and hopes of Alma, an undocumented teenager living in the United States.  Alma's story reflects the lives of millions of young people trapped between countries and cultures, longing for a place to belong.  An important story that's full of heart, it will forever change the way you view those who live their lives in the shadows.” —Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth About Alice

The book had a rocky start to begin with.  The writing takes some time to adjust to, but I quickly became absorbed by this book because I wanted to see how this romance would turn out. Would it be as doomed as the fated Romeo and Juliet or would Evan and Alma have a happier ending?

At first so many cringe-worthy scenes take place. We hear the unrealistic (and frankly awkward) thoughts of the two main characters Alma and Evan. I couldn't connect with the characters, they were so unfeeling. The only time I felt a spark in them is when they were together. The writing seemed really bland and formulaic. It lacked so much feeling and passion that I felt this story deserved. The pacing was great, and I read this book fairly quickly. 

Dream Things True is inspired by Romeo and Juliet, and the romance mirrors that quite a bit. There's no instalove, but there's definitely an instant attraction (and foolishness) that occurs just as it did for the original star-crossed lovers. I really enjoyed the romance. It was pretty cute and fun, yet I hate how Alma let all of her hard work towards her future fall away to focus on her relationship with Evan. I don't understand why she couldn't have both...

I'm glad that Marie decided to incorporate the immigration element and information to the story. It's obviously a topic near and dear to her heart, and I love that she added it. At the same time though I felt it was very biased. The portrayal was heartfelt and I really sympathized for the immigrants, yet I felt the argument was very one-sided and biased. Yes I feel bad for these immigrants yet Evan's uncle the senator never defended the reasons why he had such a hard and fast policy on immigration. And if he did it wasn't written into the novel. I wish we had seen both sides to the immigration argument. 

There were hints of Mexican and Spanish culture thrown in the mix, and although I thought it was great that they were included, Alma's dismissal of the culture (and calling it weird and strange) and not being proud of her heritage really annoyed me. Also Evan is SO ignorant. He didn't know even the simplest of Spanish-influenced things (like tamales and quinceaneras). 

Although this book had quite a few flaws, I liked the romance quite a bit!

About the Author:

Marie Marquardt is a Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University's Candler School of Theology and the author of Living Illegal: The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration. She is widely published on issues of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. South. Marquardt has also worked as an advocate among immigrants in Atlanta. She is a founder and co-chair of El Refugio, a hospitality house near the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. Dream Things True is Marie's first young adult novel.


St. Martin's Press is kindly hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of Dream Things True (US/Canada). 
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Rachel is a teenaged unapologetic fangirl and perfectionist.

She loves reading for the escape it gives from reality and enjoys crying over books, swooning over characters, and laughing out loud over funny lines. She is a semi-recovering Netflix addict and a middle child of three.

You can find her on Twitter @yaperfectionist & Goodreads.


  1. I like that she mentioned Anna and St. Clair being a favourite couple, because they are also one of mine! As well as that, I am someone who isn't the biggest fan of Romeo and Juliet (we have a love hate relationship) but I generally do like retellings of the story. I am adding this one to my TBR.

  2. i'm happy to see you stuck with this one. I actually ended up marking it DNF at 25%. It just wasn't working for me. But I know other people would definitely enjoy this one, so I'm happy to see that you were one of those people. And I adore the cover - it's so pretty, yet simple. Great review!! :)

  3. It actually makes me so happy to know that this book was written with one of the intentions being to inform the people about these people and the things they go through and the problems they encounter. It would make these people more HUMAN and not just a statistic. Looking forward to this one just for that, so hopefully the problems won't be too much of a problem.

    Faye at The Social Potato

  4. I really loved your interview questions, they were unique and thoughtful :) This cover is gorgeous! I am glad that you were able to enjoy the romance in this one!


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