Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt is a modern retelling based on Romeo & Juliet. For this blog tour author guest post I asked Marie Marquardt how she tied the famous tragedy to her story. I love her explanation, especially after finishing the book, and really appreciate how much more she added to the story.
About the Book (Goodreads link):
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.
FIND MARIE ONLINE
Marie Marquardt’s Guest Post:
I am intrigued by the fact that young adults have to make their way in a world that they didn’t create – a world that they inherited from their parents, their society, and the legal system that structures their lives. For Evan and Alma, the protagonists in Dream Things True, growing up means opening their eyes to the painful injustice of that world, and then devising a way to struggle against it together.
Dream Things True is similar to Romeo and Juliet in that my protagonists are “star-crossed” in the sense of having fate (in the form of family connections, social norms, and laws) working against them. There are also are some plot elements and characters that bear close resemblance to the play. Evan and Alma fall for each other fast, to be sure (but not as lightening-fast as Romeo and Juliet). The story also features an irredeemably bad guy named Conway, who functions much like Tybalt. But, like Tybalt, Conway is not the antagonistic force in the story. (That’s society.) He’s just plain bad, and he manifests some of the most insidious elements of the society, laying them bare for all to see.
Sometimes, though, I feel inclined to resist the comparison with Romeo and Juliet. Alma is much more savvy than Juliet, and Evan definitely is way less dramatic and impulsive than Romeo! Also, Dream Things True is a story about many kinds of love, not just the romantic love explored in Romeo and Juliet. It’s about a son’s love for his mother, even when she’s emotionally distant. It’s about a sister’s love for her brother, even when he makes choices she disagrees with. It’s about the love we have for friends who do the unthinkable, but then seek our forgiveness. Love runs deep and broad in this story.
And one more thing: I wrote Dream Things True with the goal of offering an honest, realistic portrayal of the crises faced by undocumented immigrant families in a particular time and place. Because of this, I couldn’t give the story a sweet happily ever-after sort of ending (Oh, how I wish I could!). But the story’s outcome is hopeful, not tragic and devastating. This, of course, also distinguishes Dream Things True from the real tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.
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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.