THE ILLEGAL AND THE REFUGEE - An American Love Story

Ian Tremblay

Book Cover

GENRE

POLITICAL DRAMA ROMANCE

    Core Theme

    HOPE FOR THE FUTURE; FOLLOWING YOUR HEART

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    N/A

    CHARACTER LIST

    MARIA. EARLY 20S. LEAD. PASSIONATE ACTIVIST AND CARING SOUL.

    ERNESTO. EARLY 20S. LEAD. WARM HEARTED ROMANTIC AND IDEALIST.

    YANETI: EARLY 20S. TIMID BUT SWEET. ERNESTO’S FIRST LOVE.

    EDUARDO: EARLY 20S. HARDHEADED DREAMER. MARIA’S FIRST LOVE.

    TERESA: MID 40S. MOTHER. UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT CROSSING BORDER WITH MARIA.

    VINCENTE: MID 40S. COYOTE. PSYCHOPATH. DRUG RUNNER. ARRANGES EDUARDO’S BORDER CROSSING.

    OSCAR LEON: MID 50S. RUNS CUBAN OPERATION TO KILL PEOPLE TRYING TO ESCAPE, INCLUDING YANETI AND ERNESTO.

    Logline

    The Illegal and the Refugee-An American Love Story is a tale of tragedy and triumph that highlights the difficulties and hardships of Latino immigration to the United States. With roots set in Mexico and Cuba, it is a story about letting go of the past, the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity and of deep unconditional love.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34

    Target Gender: Female leaning

    Setting

    Mexico City, Havana, Cuba, Miami, Los Angeles

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Year Published: 2014

    Starting Description

    In the first two parts of the story, two similar life experiences, one in Havana and one in Mexico City happen at about the same time, setting in motion events that will lead the two protagonists in the third part of the story, to the United States where they will eventually meet and fall in love.

    Ending Description

    After their fortuitous encounter in Miami, the similarities of Maria and Ernesto's stories and the extraordinary coincidences that brought them together creates a bond between them, and they fall in love, happy to have found each other and excited about the future.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Language/Profanity, Extreme Violence

    Plot - Other Elements

    Happy Ending, Twist, Coming of Age

    Plot - Premise

    Quest

    Main Character Details

    Name: Maria Torres is a first-year University student in Mexico City. An extrovert, she is outspoken, eloquent, impulsive and passionate. She is a social activist and idealist and committed to helping the poor and less fortunate. For Maria there is no cause not worth fighting for.

    Age: 20

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Beautiful, Complex, Confident, Decisive, Engaging, Romantic, Outspoken, Educated, Faithful, Strong Moral Code, Empathetic, Heroic, Gracious, Leader, Selfless

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Ernesto Rodriguez is a young street wise entrepreneur living in Havana Cuba. He is handsome and proud and is known for his innate kindness and quiet decency. He is cool and laid back, but when his loathing of the Cuban communist regime comes up, is Spanish blood boils over and he has trouble containing himself. He dreams of fleeing to Miami where he has family in order to start a new life.

    Age: 24

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Decisive, Gracious, Masculine, Sexy, Honorable, Outspoken, Romantic, Adventurous, Charming, Confident, Empathetic, Faithful, Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    Genre

    DRAMA, POLITICS, ROMANCE

    Brief

    Maria’s boyfriend disappeared when trying to cross the border from Mexico into the US. She decides to follow in his footsteps to try and find him. She goes through a traumatizing trek across the desert and ends up in East LA. Ernesto’s girlfriend goes missing after he organizes for her to escape Cuba and sail for the US. He retraces her path and finds himself in Miami. Realizing both their significant others are dead, they are inspired to move on with their lives when they see the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti. They go to volunteer and meet each other and fall in love.

    Overall Rating

    GOOD

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: GOOD

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: EXCELLENT

    Premise: EXCELLENT

    Structure: EXCELLENT

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    For the most part. It could do a better job depicting the arc of the story in the short summary. The descriptions of the characters feel like they go a little overboard, and probably don't need to list all those key traits. I'm also not sure if I agree with the target audiences listed. I think it's not necessarily female leaning and it's the type of story that will probably draw a lot of 35+ viewers more than the 18-30 demographic.

    Draw of Story

    From the first page the author did a great job at developing intrigue and I wanted to know what happened next. We start with the two boys dying in the desert, and I immediately want to know why and what happened that led up to this point.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The very graphic descriptions of the violence done by the protagonists was at times so revolting and upsetting that I did not want to read anymore. I think it's fine to show that they are men with no morals, but the fact that there is no closure with them and we don't know what happened to them or if there is justice for the terrible things they've done, including to our main characters. There needs to be something to close the loop with them or make them more relatable, like they are doing the things they are doing to survive because they are victims of the broken system, too.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The hook is the curiosity of what happened to Maria and Ernesto’s lovers and if they will ever be able to discover the truth of what happened to them. The linkage between that and the immigrant story makes for a compelling piece of content.

    Fanbase Potential

    Probably not. It’s an emotionally intense journey. While it is compelling, it is also not the type of film that will draw large crowds. I could see it trending on Netflix for a weekend and perhaps draw some niche fans in the immigrant communities.

    Awards Potential

    Yes. This is exactly the type of story that gets awards. The hardship of immigrants. Trying to uncover the truth. The pain of lost love. The film could include stunning visuals in several locations. There is great opportunity for incredible character performances.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    N/A - I IMAGINE THERE ARE SOME OUT THERE, BUT NONE CAME TO MIND THAT I'VE SEEN

    What’s New About the Story

    The telling of two juxtaposing stories of people losing loved ones and going to find them and ending up finding each other is an interesting twist of a love story. The characters, while compelling, are also one dimensional and archetypal. The protagonists are so pure and good and well-meaning and the antagonists are all complete psychopaths, more nuance in the characters would make it more unique.

    Lead Characters

    The lead characters are both so persistent and passionate. They are both passionate about causes as well as about the ones they love.

    Uniqueness of Story

    It is bordering on being a rare gem. It’s a really compelling story told in an interesting way. A little more nuance and subtlety so that the audience isn’t being told “this is bad” and “this is good” so overtly would help make it more interesting.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Studio, Film - Streaming, f, Film - Indie, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation

    RECOMMEND

    Justification

    This is a story with a solid plot, compelling characters, and an interesting premise. It's definitely marketable, most likely something for screeners. Has awards potential. And with a sufficient enough budget could have a lot of stunning and provocative visuals and feel like an epic.

    Brief

    Maria’s boyfriend disappeared when trying to cross the border from Mexico into the US. She decides to follow in his footsteps to try and find him. She goes through a traumatizing trek across the desert and ends up in East LA. Ernesto’s girlfriend goes missing after he organizes for her to escape Cuba and sail for the US. He retraces her path and finds himself in Miami. Realizing both their significant others are dead, they are inspired to move on with their lives when they see the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti. They go to volunteer and meet each other and fall in love.

    What We Liked

    It’s a very emotional story and takes the audience on a real, powerful journey. It’s a great character study of two compelling and relatable characters. It’s an original and compelling premise.

    Film: This would make a great hero’s journey film – where we follow two leads through their harrowing journeys to find one another. It would be an epic romance movie full of heartbreak, loss, and suspense. t also makes an interesting statement about undocumented immigrants, refugees, and opportunity in America.

    TV: The story could work as a multi-episode mini-series, where each follows a different character – Maria, Ernesto, Eduardo, and Yaneti - through their journeys, with the last episode being the culminating episode of how Maria and Ernesto find one another. This could build a lot of tension and leave each episode as a cliff hanger, compelling the audience to want to know what happens next. It also makes an interesting statement about undocumented immigrants, refugees, and opportunity in America.

    Key points: Great dramatic moments; Excellent building of tension; Compelling and relatable characters; Developed many moments of intrigue ; Takes us on an emotional journey

    Synopsis

    Eduardo and Mauricio fall dead, one after the other, somewhere in the middle of the Arizona desert.

    Vincente is a drug runner, murderer, and psychopath. He also happens to be the coyote that Eduardo, Mauricio, and Arturo – three idealistic kids who just finished their freshman year of college and are looking for more opportunity in life - hire to help them illegally cross the border from Mexico into the United States. When they hired him, he said that because they didn’t have sufficient funds, they needed to carry backpacks full of drugs across the border as part of the journey. After days of walking with no food or water in the scorching heat, the three boys, one after another, meet their end.

    Eduardo grew up in poverty in a small city in Mexico. He worked hard and got into university in Mexico City. His first year there he meets his two best friends, Mauricio and Arturo. But more importantly, he meets the love of his life, Maria. Maria was from Mexico City and also grew up poor, but was an activist fighting for better opportunities for the Mexican people. Over the summer, the three boys talk about how there aren’t real opportunities for them in Mexico, and that the only way to thrive is to get to America. They hatch a plan to cross the border and don’t tell anyone but Maria. Maria is furious and devastated and begs Eduardo not to go, but he does anyway.

    After not hearing from Eduardo, Maria begins to panic. She decides she needs to follow his footsteps to try and find him. Her father helps her find a reputable person to help her cross the border. At the border crossing she meets another woman making the journey, Teresa, who guides her through the whole process and helps her get through. Teresa has done this trek a number of times and is like a mother figure to her, comforting her as they walk through the desert. As Maria’s group is walking, a vigilante at the border shoots Teresa in the head and kills one other traveler. Maria successfully makes it across the border and to her aunt and uncle in LA but is severely traumatized by the experience.

    Yaneti is on a boat that she thinks is headed for Florida. Now tied and gagged, she and the rest of the passengers trying to escape Cuba are tied to cement blocks and thrown overboard. Yaneti met Ernesto at a celebration and they instantly fell in love. Ernesto was anti-communist and hated Castro and believed he was never going to be able to have a good life in Cuba. He makes a plan for him and Yaneti to leave and go to the US. He meets with Oscar Leon, a shady character who is known to be a human trafficker. The cost is $10,000 per person and they don’t have all the money, so Ernesto decides to send Yaneti ahead of him, and he’ll get the rest of the money and follow her. Unbeknownst to Ernesto, Oscar actually worked for the Cuban government, capturing defectors and killing them after taking their money.

    Ernesto is panicked when he hasn’t heard from Yaneti. The more time goes by he decides to follow in her footsteps. He approaches Oscar to help him get across. Ernesto gets on a boat with Pedro and the group of defectors. He realizes something is weird when they cut the engine in the middle of the ocean. Ernesto can see they have guns and he silently slips off the side of the boat and into the water. He watches as Pedro repeats the same thing he did during Yaneti’s journey. Ernesto gathers his strength and swims the rest of the way and ends up on the beach in Miami.

    Ernesto is taken care of by his aunt and uncle in Little Havana. Even though Ernesto saw what happened on the boat, he is in denial that Yaneti is dead, and all his spare time when he isn’t working as a dish washer or volunteering at the church, he dedicates to looking for her. He becomes more and more dejected as reality begins to take hold. One night he sees on TV that there’s been a devastating earthquake in Haiti. The images he sees on the screen wake him up from his stupor and he decides that he needs to do something to help. He goes to the Red Cross and starts volunteering as a greeter for Haitians who are being medevaced.

    Maria sits incapacitated at her family’s home in East LA. She tries desperately to figure out what happened to Eduardo but never gets anywhere. She is also struck by the devastation in Haiti and is moved to do something. She flies to Miami and volunteers at Red Cross. It’s there that she meets Ernesto. They hit it off immediately. Finally, they tell each other one another’s harrowing stories, and this brings them closer together. On the one year anniversary of Ernesto landing on the beach in Miami, he asks her to marry him in that exact spot.

    About The Author

    Ian Tremblay has published two short story collections as well as the novel The Illegal and the Refugee. He works in the entertainment industry and studied English Literature.