Maria’s writing has appeared in Newsweek, The Washington Post and the Star Ledger. Her debut novel, The Secret Side of Empty, is the story of an “illegal” high school senior. It was inspired by Maria’s own experiences as an undocumented teen. Since becoming a citizen, Maria has run her own business and has become a soccer mom. She lives with her 13-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son in northern New Jersey.
Guest Post by Maria Andreu
My book, The Secret Side of Empty, doesn’t have explosions, fangs or swoon-worthy hunks on horseback. In fact, it’s just a story about a girl. This girl, M.T., is a high school senior with a secret: she’s “illegal.” She was brought over to the U.S. as a baby by her parents without the right papers. So, although she feels like a regular American girl, she doesn’t have a social security number which means no college, no driver’s license, no job. For her, life as she knows it is over when she graduates from high school, which she’s about to do.
What’s it like growing up feeling “wrong,” and like a stowaway for a decision you had no hand in making? If there is anyone who can write that tale, it’s me. I too was undocumented as a kid. I grew up seeing the future as a hopeless black wall, with no good options. But, for me, there was something of a “magic wand” fairytale ending. When I was 18, I became eligible for an amnesty that put me on a path to citizenship. And the wall crumbled so that I could build an amazing life.
For decades all I wanted to do was put it out of my mind. I wanted to be like everybody else. But then I guess none of us are like everybody else. I had longed to be a writer for as long as I could remember, and one day I finally understood that the way I was going to do that was to tell my darkest, most closely-held secret. And so The Secret Side of Empty was born.
People ask me what it’s like to share something that was once so private. The answer is that it’s incredibly liberating. I once thought that my difference made me weak, but I now see that it’s what’s unique and precious about me. It’s been such a gift sharing the story, and making it a novel freed me up to make it a fun, interesting read. My favorite scene is the slow-speed chase in which the main character meets her boyfriend. It is fun to let your imagination run wild.
About The Secret Side of Empty
It's the story of a teen girl that is American in every way except for in one very important way: on paper. She was brought to the U.S. as a baby without proper documentation, so she's "illegal." As the end of the safe haven of her high school days draw near, she faces an uncertain future. Full of humor and frustration and love, The Secret Side of Empty speaks to the part in all of us that has felt excluded or has had a secret too scary to share. What M.T., the main character, finally discovers is the strength of the human spirit and the power that's unleashed when you finally live the truth.
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Maria is giving away two separate prizes on her tour, a $250 Amazon Gift Card AND a Kindle Fire.
For a chance to win the $250 Amazon gift card, OR the Kindle Fire leave a comment on her blog post for that day. Winners will be randomly selected on September 30th.