Hello, tea party attendees! We’re so excited to have Daniel Aleman, author of Indivisible as a guest at our tea party today. I was incredibly lucky to read an ARC of Indivisible, and could not put it down. Indivisible is remarkable, timely, powerful, and heartbreaking, and you won’t want to miss it when it comes out on May 4th!
Mateo Garcia and his younger sister, Sophie, have been taught to fear one word for as long as they can remember: deportation. Over the past few years, however, the fear that their undocumented immigrant parents could be sent back to Mexico has started to fade. Ma and Pa have been in the United States for so long, they have American-born children, and they’re hard workers and good neighbors. When Mateo returns from school one day to find that his parents have been taken by ICE, he realizes that his family’s worst nightmare has become a reality. With his parents’ fate and his own future hanging in the balance, Mateo must figure out who he is and what he is capable of, even as he’s forced to question what it means to be an American.
Hi Daniel! Thank you so much for joining our tea party today! We’re so excited you’re here! For all our tea party attendees who may be meeting you for the first time, could you tell us a little about yourself, and Indivisible?
Of course! I was born and raised in Mexico City, and I have lived in different cities and countries over the past decade. Some of my favorite things are books, tacos, dogs, and taking long walks.
Indivisible is a story about a Mexican-American teenager who is left to care for his young sister after their undocumented immigrant parents are taken by ICE. This is a book about the unbreakable bonds that bind us to the people we love, finding solace in the most unexpected of places, and allowing other people to lift us up when we’re feeling down. It has both emotional and heartwarming moments, as well as a strong focus on family, friendship, community, and first love.
Just like all of us at tea time lit, Mateo is a huge fan of theatre! what do you think his dream role would be?
There was a scene that didn’t make it into the final book where Mateo revealed his dream role would be Fiyero on Wicked, even though people had told him he was more of a Boq. I think this says a lot about Mateo, because he’s not used to thinking of himself as the main character (neither Fiyero nor Boq are the leads in Wicked!), but I’d also say he secretly dreams of playing Evan in Dear Evan Hansen, which would mean being the lead actor on a Broadway play.
Your website says you’re a big fan of dogs! If each of your characters was a dog, what kind of dog would they be?
I love dogs so much! Ironically, I don’t know much about different breeds, but what I do know is that Mateo might be a Golden Retriever, because he is deeply loyal to those he loves.
Without giving anything away, what’s a quote or scene that you’re really proud of?
I have a few favorite scenes in Indivisible. The first is one that some people have started referring to as “the cockroach incident.” I don’t want to spoil it, but it involves, well… a cockroach. It was such a fun scene to write, and it always makes me laugh whenever I revisit it. At the same time, it’s emotional, and it ultimately serves as a crucial turning point for the main character.
Another one of my favorites is a scene near the end of the book, which takes place at Coney Island Beach. This is where the title of the book takes on a whole new meaning, and I like to think that this moment is in equal parts heartbreaking and joyful.
Here’s a question we ask all our guests: if Indivisible was a tea party, what flavor of tea — and snacks — would be present?
I’d say chamomile tea, because it can have a powerful taste, but it is super easy to turn it into a sweet tea by just adding a touch of honey or sugar. Indivisible is similar in some ways—it is powerful and emotional at times, but it is also infused with moments of warmth, humor, and love. The tea party would also have to include macarons, but there’s no real reason for that… I just really love macarons!
What’s something that you hope readers will take away from Indivisible?
I truly hope that readers who have had close experiences with immigration will feel less alone after reading it. I think books can be incredibly powerful in their ability to mirror our own lives and make us feel seen. Beyond that, I’d say that my favorite books are those that move me, inspire me, and transform me in some way, so I would love for Indivisible to have these effects on readers.
Daniel Aleman was born and raised in Mexico City. A graduate of McGill University, he is passionate about books, coffee, and dogs. After spending time in Montreal and the New York City area, he now lives in Toronto, where he is on a never-ending search for the best tacos in the city. Indivisible is his first novel.
Photo credit: F. Angelini