book review

The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers

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Release Date: May 09, 2017

She is the envy of every teenage girl in Mexico City. Her mother is a glamorous telenovela actress. Her father is the go-to voice-over talent for blockbuster films. Hers is a world of private planes, chauffeurs, paparazzi and gossip columnists. Meet Camilla del Valle Cammi to those who know her best.

When Cammi s mom gets cast in an American television show and the family moves to LA, things change, and quickly. Her mom’s first role is playing a not-so-glamorous maid in a sitcom. Her dad tries to find work but dreams about returning to Mexico. And at the posh, private Polestar Academy, Cammi s new friends assume she s a scholarship kid, the daughter of a domestic.

At first, Cammi thinks playing along with the stereotypes will be her way of teaching her new friends a lesson. But the more she lies, the more she wonders: Is she only fooling herself?

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*I would like to thank the publisher, Delacorte Press, and NetGalley for the copy in return for an honest review.

The blurb said that the fans of Jane the Virgin will love this. I’m not a huge fan of the series but I  quite enjoyed watching it, so I am sold. And though the author raised an important issue about racism and embracing one’s cultural heritage, there are things where I feel off.   

Camilla del Valle is the daughter of the most famous telenovela actress and the sought-after voice-over talent in Mexico City. Not only that her parents are famous, they are also rich. A huge mansion, personal drivers/bodyguards and chef, stay-at-home makeup artist and stylist, a massive household staff, private plane, you get the gist. Suffice to say, every teenage girl in her city envy the life she leads. And with that came paparazzi who’s out to get a scoop about her mother. Because of that, Cammi became wary in choosing her friends. She feels like they only want to hang out with her because of her mom. So, it’s been her rule that once those “friends” started asking about her mom for picture or autographs, she will stop hanging out with them. Unfortunately, she didn’t get to find a friend that passed her test. Not until she meet Patrizia. She may be an imperious spoiled brat but she didn’t seem to care about who her parents are. But even her betrayed Cammi over a boy. Patrizia sold an information about her mom to the paparazzi. Her mom was so distraught that her dad decided for them to take a break and visit Sergio, her older brother, in Europe.

But the plan changed when her mom was cast for an American TV show, the family moved to LA instead. Her mom will be playing a maid-turned-entrepreneur, and though it’s not the type of role she’s used to, she’s really excited for the new experience. Her dad, although he doesn’t say it, she knows he is missing Mexico. To Cammi’s delight, she managed to get herself new friends at her new school, Polestar Academy. Only, they thought she is there because of a scholarship program and her parents are domestic helpers. She didn’t confirm it but she didn’t deny it either. She just let them assume everything about her. At first, it feels good to have friends who don’t have an idea of who her mom is, friends who don’t have ulterior motives. And maybe she can teach them a thing or two about stereotyping. But as the lies pile up and guilt gnawed at her, she realized that once the truth comes out, there is a possibility that she might lose her new-found friends who seem to genuinely care about her.

The Go-Between not only tackles racism but it also reflects the life of an immigrant not only in the USA but in any part of the world. How one is being stereotyped just because of one’s race. This is one in which I can relate. How people assume of the life you lead just because you are part of a particular race. I’ve heard some nasty comments directed at me because I happen to be a bland-looking “Asian” who married a “white” guy. And as much as I try to ignore it, there were times that it will get to me. Do I sound bitter? I hope not. 😄

Anyway, The Go-Between is a take on a life of an immigrant, but in this case, it was told in the perspective of a rich teenager who has no idea what it’s like for the working class people on how they deal with their everyday lives in a foreign country. And while the main character can be offending at times, in the end, I can say that it did manage to get its point across the readers. It is hard to feel sympathy towards Cammi since she keeps on lying and lying about her life. Sure, I can understand why she’s wary in choosing her friends and wanting to be accepted by people for just being herself and not of her rich status and famous parents. But to pretend that she’s poor, I think it is too much. People feels sorry for her, giving her money, clothes, food and even a “job” to help her financially and though she feels guilty about it, she still keeps at it. Her new friends are a little racist yet they deny it. But it occurred to me that it frequently happen to some people. Some people tends to give racist comments but seem not to be aware of it. And her friends to keep assuming about her life as a Mexican is quite infuriating sometimes too. Aside from being poor, they assumed her mother is a maid, her father is a gardener and maybe a drug dealer boyfriend. What’s worst is insinuating that it is because of them (or their parent’s money) why Cammi is in America. Another thing I don’t get is how is Cammi be dating a med school student. Isn’t he a little too old for a 16-year old girl? Why is her family okay with it and not freaking out? (Please excuse my ignorance on this one.)

Towards the end though, it is nice to see how Cammi’s character grows and develop as she learned some lessons like “you don’t have to be poor to keep it real”. She has come to accept what she really is and how she can do a lot of great things because of what she have. Like helping other people, for example. I like Cammi’s parents most, especially her mom, and it’s disappointing not to read more about her. She may be a self-involved diva but she is a really good mother. I just adore how her parents love each other. That though her mom’s the famous one, her dad is super supportive to his wife. 

I can understand why some people feel offended by the stereotyping in the book. But in my opinion, the case of stereotyping was included to prove a point and address the issue so people will become aware that it is not okay. 

So regardless of the few things I don’t agree with, I still quite enjoyed it especially the last few pages. It is a quick-paced, fun and a solid read overall.

RATING: 3.5/5

3andhalfhearts

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(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Purchase it on Amazon.com: The Go-Between

Purchase it on Amazon.co.uk: The Go-Between

Purchase it on Amazon.fr: The Go-Between

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