As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.
With senior year of high school kicking into full swing, M.T. sees her hopes for a “normal” future unraveling. And it will take discovering a sense of trust in herself and others for M.T. to stake a claim in the life that she wants.
Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience to tell a story that is timely, relevant, and universally poignant.
Reviews and Awards
2014 National Indie Excellence® Award winner.
2015 International Latino Book Award Finalist
A School Library Journal Top 10 Latino Books of 2014 pick.
A 2015 Top Ten Latino Authors to Watch (and Read) by Latino Stories
A Junior Library Guild selection.
“Must-read YA for Spring 2014.”
“With immigration reform a hot button issue across the country, this book couldn’t be timelier. Written with the compassion and raw emotions of one who has lived in the shadows herself, Andreu’s debut offering is a winner.”
“M.T., like many undocumented youth, is resilient and determined to rise above her circumstances to make a life in the only country she has ever known as home. Andreu has crafted an empathetic yet gritty narrative; readers will ache for M.T. as they are let into her secret life.”
“M.T’s immediate, jaundiced, and worldly perspective is eye-opening and wrenching.”
“…a captivating look at the life of one young immigrant and the challenges so many like her face. Andreu deftly captures the protagonist’s desires, despair, and determination in this peek at a side of American life not often seen in YA literature.”
School Library Journal
“Briskly paced dialogue makes for a quick read. Even if teens do not know about the issues of undocumented immigrants, they will easily relate to M.T.’s boyfriend troubles and her desperate desire to keep her home life secret.”
“…timely and important”
The Bulletin of The Center for Children’s Books
“…a different and very personal look at how being illegal impacts lives and puts a very personal face to the subject of illegal immigrants.”
“THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY is a great read for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider.”
“I feel like I can’t even adequately describe how blown away I was by The Secret Side of Empty. It’s smart and timely – particularly with the ongoing immigration debates across the nation – but it’s also just such a beautifully written book, with complete and universal appeal about what it is to be young. Maria E. Andreu has accomplished the very difficult task of writing about a subject that not many may understand or have faced, but does so in a way where all readers will relate to M.T.”
Reading Nook Reviews
“While illegal immigration is a highly politicized topic, The Secret Side of Empty isn’t a story about undocumented immigrants. It’s the story of a girl growing up in America who has to hide a secret that can end life as she knows it. It’s the story of friendship and learning to trust others. It’s a story of family and how they shape us; how they can hold us back and often how they lift us up. While I definitely believe this novel will challenge beliefs about illegal immigration, in the end, readers will remember The Secret Side of Empty because of its believable and inspiring heroine.
Childrens and Teens Book Connection
“After I finished reading The Secret Side of Empty it stayed with me for days. Such as fantastic debut novel by Maria Andreu! I cannot wait to read more by her. The entire story just felt so real and written so well that it sucks you in. The characters were imperfectly perfect and M.T.’s situation is real because there are millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States going through what she went through. But even if you’re not an “illegal,” you can still relate to the story because it is more than about being undocumented. The Secret Side of Empty is about growing up, making decisions, finding inner strength and finding yourself.
You need this book in your life. Read it.”
Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks
An educator’s guide for THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY is available. Click here.
About the Author
Maria E. Andreu is the author of THE SECRET SIDE OFEMPTY, a semi-autobiographical story of an undocumented teen. It won an Indie Excellence Award and was named “Must-read YA” by Bookish. At twelve, she wrote, “Most of all, I want to be a writer.” It only took her thirty years to get there. She enjoys taking pictures of the wild things that visit her yard and writing in her inner snarky teenage voice. She lives in New Jersey.
School Visit Information
Maria is available for in-person school and library events including talks, readings, and workshops. Contact her for more information or to schedule a visit.