Veronica Chambers’ THE GO-BETWEEN delivers a captivating story with an important message.
When I first heard about Veronica Chambers‘ new book, The Go-Between, I was intrigued. Not just because the synopsis promised that it was perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin, which is one of my favourite shows, but because it sounded unlike anything I had read before. But I was expecting something fluffy and sweet, something light. But The Go-Between was so much more than that. It carried an important message about being true to who you are, and about paying attention to your own words and prejudices.
That’s not to say the book wasn’t fun, because it was incredibly fun, Chambers telling this story with humour and excitement. The Go-Between follows Camilla del Valle, or Cammi, who is the daughter of famous Mexican telenovela actress Carolina del Valle, and is living the true celebrity lifestyle: including private planes, bodyguards and paparazzi. But when Carolina gets a new role as a maid on an American TV show, Cammi’s family makes the move from Mexico City, where Cammi was the envy of all, to Los Angeles, where no one even knows who she is.
But LA isn’t everything that the del Valle family had planned. Carolina’s new role is anything but glamorous, Cammi’s father wishes to return to Mexico City and Cammi quickly realizes that though she may be excited by her new anonymity, it comes with others making assumptions about her, based only on her race. Her new friends at her private school, Polestar Academy, immediately assume that Cammi is a scholarship kid, and that she’s the daughter of domestics.
This is not Cammi’s story, but she decides to play along with stereotypes, fabricating a new life for herself in order to teach her new friends a lesson. But as she continues to lie about who she is, Cammi starts to wonder why she’s really doing this, and how far she can go before she can’t turn back.
This book perfectly managed the balance between fun and serious, Cammi’s celebrity lifestyle, bubbly personality and her dramatic, loving mother adding laughter and excitement to counteract the more serious moments in the novel, which only made these moments more powerful. This lightheartedness is most prevalent in the exposition of the novel, when the del Valles are still in Mexico City, and Cammi’s narration makes readers feel like they are in the city’s sunny streets as well.
The story is told in a very conversational writing style, incorporating hashtags, which is incredibly fun to read, and really makes you feel connected to the story. Though there were moments when I wished for more in-depth explanations of events or moments that were skipped, – that the conversational style didn’t really allow for – overall this book was wonderfully written. It had a lively bunch of characters, though my personal favourite was Sergio: Cammi’s older brother who she describes as her “guardian angel.” Though Sergio was not in the book a lot, it was clear that Cammi looked up to him, and whenever he did appear on the page, he was always there to comfort her and give some much needed advice.
Cammi, on the other hand, was not the most likable main character. She was a loving, dedicated girl, but she had her flaws, and she could be annoying at times, as she failed to see how much she was harming her relationships with this act. But she learned a lesson. And taught readers this lesson as well. Cammi learned through the course of this book about the importance of being yourself, and how her pretending to be a stereotype was only perpetuating that stereotype and the harmful implications this could have. Cammi also struggled throughout this book with her own identity, and how to be herself in a world that was changing around her. This is a challenge that many face, and one that really resonated with me.
The Go-Between also carried an extremely important message about assumptions and what we say to others before we really know them. It was a message that made me think more about the impact of my words, and what I may be assuming about others. It is a message that I think everyone needs to hear.
This book was an enjoyable read, and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for an intriguing plot with a deeper meaning. I promise it is worth the read. And now, I will finish off this review with one of my favourite quotations from the book, and one that is incredibly important:
“When we don’t examine out assumptions about people, or when we let those assumptions slide, then we can do some serious harm – to each other and to our culture.”
The Go-Between is on sale now. You can order it via Amazon.
Fans of Jane the Virgin will find much to love about The Go-Between, a coming-of-age novel from bestselling author Veronica Chambers, who with humor and humanity explores issues of identity and belonging in a world that is ever-changing.
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?