The Illegal and the Refugee by Ian Tremblay
The Illegal and the Refugee – An American Love Story by Ian Tremblay is a romance novel that tells the story of two young lovers struggling with immigrating to the United States. Taking place in Mexico, Cuba, and contemporary America, this story is full of tragedy and triumph, with surprises coming frequently amongst the pages. Offering strong and resilient Latino characters to follow, Tremblay’s novel creates a heart wrenching tale that is sure to stick with readers long after they are done. The narrative follows Maria Torres, a smart student at college in Mexico City who is actively campaigning for the social issues she believes in. Trouble arrives when her beloved Eduardo decides to try his luck at illegally entering the United States. Maria does not want him to do this, but she is unable to stop him, and once he’s gone from her sight, he seemingly disappears from the Earth. Maria goes after him, retracing his footsteps and crossing into the US herself through the Arizona desert. She ends up in Los Angeles, an illegal immigrant herself, desperate to find him. Meanwhile, in Havana, Cuba, Ernesto Rodriguez has just sent his lover Yaneti to America, only to never hear from her again. After a while he follows after her, narrowly surviving a treacherous sea crossing. He washes up on a beach in Florida, a refugee, with no idea where he should go from here.
The stories of Ernesto and Maria run parallel to one another, as their situations are similar, yet different in many regards too. As they try their best to adapt to their new circumstances in the United States, while also continuously searching for their missing loved ones, a natural catastrophe elsewhere in the world sets the stage for their meeting in Miami, where the two longing lovers come to know each other. As included in the book’s description this novel “is about letting go of the past, the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity and of deep, unconditional love,” and from the story that Tremblay has woven so intricately together, we couldn’t agree more. His characters are fully developed and relatable, at times frantically dealing with chaotic circumstances they are unable to control, other times putting themselves in danger on purpose, all in the name of love. The story deals with the real life issues many Latinos have faced in coming to America. It is bound to appeal greatly to the Latino community, but it will also appeal to a wide audience due to the engaging story lines that Tremblay has so carefully constructed.
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