Book Review: The Secret Side of Empty

The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu


Maria Andreu’s young adult novel “The Secret Side of Empty” is based on the author’s own experiences as an undocumented immigrant. The protagonist, MT, is a fair-skinned blond, not the face of what most folks imagine when they picture an illegal immigrant. MT is a resourceful, intelligent high school senior who finds that no matter how good a student she becomes, in the end it won’t matter because she has no papers, no opportunities for higher education and must endure the constant threat of her and her family’s deportation. The specter of being thrown out from the only home she’s ever known is a fear she keeps entirely to herself. To do so, she must tell one lie after another to her closest friend, her boyfriend and her beloved English teacher. The weight of keeping her status a secret erodes her courage until she feels she’s completely run out of options. What makes the reader care? MT’s voice is real and will resonate with adults and young readers alike. The fact that the author did not receive amnesty until the age of eighteen lends the story a level of authenticity, which gives the story a timeliness and relevance that is not often seen in most YA.

“The Secret Side of Empty” is recommended for ages 13 & up and will be on sale March 2014. For more information about the book and author go to