Earlier today I came upon this well-written article on the myths of undocumented immigrants in the NYT (of all places!). Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is a topic very close to my heart for many reasons that I will not go into here. I normally would have read this article, agreed with it, and moved on, but this time I felt compelled to share and comment on it. The reason is that the day before I read Adam Davidson's article, I finished reading The Secret Side of Empty by Maria Andreu. 

The cover for  The Secret Side of Empty  by Maria Andreu

The cover for The Secret Side of Empty by Maria Andreu

This book is a gorgeous YA novel about Monserrat Thalia (aka MT, sounds like "Empty", get it?), a young seemingly all-American high school senior who has a secret. She and her family are from Argentina and are undocumented immigrants. They are illegals. Mojados is the term I grew up hearing. We derogatorily refer to the Mexicans and other Latinos who cross the Rio Grande to get to this country as mojados or wet-backs, but the people who crossed a whole ocean to get here from Europe are considered the backbone that makes America great. No double-standard there!

I will go on record by stating that clearly I have a very liberal political view on immigration. I also agree  with Davidson's article. I don't want to start a whole debate about CIR. All I want to do is conduct a very simple, quasi-social, literary experiment. It is a very biased, self-selecting, non-blind, non-placebo-controlled experiment, so forgive me if you are science-y. 

First, ask yourself where you stand on CIR. Are you for or against it? Are you a "the more the merrier" type of person or do you prefer the "stay away" perspective. 

Second, read The Secret Side of Empty. Find it at your local library or bookstore. Read it with an open mind. 

Third, ask yourself where you stand on CIR after reading the book. Are you for or against it? Are you a "the more the merrier" type of person or do you prefer the "stay away" perspective. 

Fourth, let me know if your perspective on CIR changed after reading Empty. No matter what your outcome, I would be very interested to hear what you thought. You can email me or use my contact page.

Fifth, and this is where it gets good, recommend a work of fiction for me to read that challenges my world view. If you know me from Twitter or IRL, you know that I am a first-generation Mexican-American feminist, a vegetarian, pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, and tend to lean quite to the left. I am a pro-vaccine pediatrician too. I love to read banned books. I challenge you to challenge me to read something that deviates from my value system. Challenge me to read something that makes me uncomfortable....as long as it is a work of fiction. If I get a reasonable response, I will post the collective response of the readers of Empty and the outcome of my challenging book reads on this blog.

Why am I curious about this? There is evidence to show that reading books about diverse experiences (and Harry Potter!) makes us more empathetic. I am curious if reading about a topic that people tend to have polarizing viewpoints has an impact on the reader's perspective. I know this is not a scientific survey at all, but I think it should be fun and interesting. I bet people are more moved by what they read in a work of fiction than a news article. 

I hope all of you choose to participate!

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AuthorNoemi Gamel