She portrays the life of the teen child of a Mexican immigrant family very realistically and the difficult choices he faces, and juxtaposes that with the story of a young well-off white girl who has issues of her own and hides behind her own "perfect" facade. The two fall in love and have a lot of hurdles to overcome to be accepted within both cultures (or not, as the case may be). Obviously, peer group and parental pressure have a significant role to play here.
While I felt in places that I wanted more depth to a given character or situation, what Elkeles achieved here was pretty significant in utilizing the familiar teen high school romance genre as the backdrop for more important messages about diversity and acceptance. Some of the characters were a little stereotypical including the two high school teachers who overcame their backgrounds and have dedicated their lives to helping others do the same. But one almost needs those kinds of characters in a book like this - role models from the next generation to show what is possible if a person fights for what he or she believes. I'm glad I read this one and would recommend it. It should be a good discussion starter for high school kids on issues of race and prejudice and it's an entertaining lovely story as well.