Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Reading on a Theme: Daughters of Immigrants

Today's Reading on a Theme features books about immigration and the children of immigrants. This subject is perfect for thematic readers because there are so many different immigrant experiences, but there are also some common threads that weave through stories like these. I had a pretty long list of books that I was considering for this list (so watch for more later), and fully admit that I selected these because of their beauty both inside and out. Those covers are so pretty together.

Last Day in New York City:
Natasha's family is about to be deported back to Jamaica. With only hours left, Natasha is desperately running around New York City trying to find some way to stay. Daniel, who has the soul of an artist, is the son of Korean immigrants who expect him to become a doctor. The two will have one day together on the streets of New York. I really enjoyed the way this story was told. Natasha and Daniel each take their turns narrating the story, but, what I really loved, is how Yoon also briefly tells the stories of the people they interact with throughout the day. Also, (and this is hugely important in a story with this set-up) I was very happy with the ending of The Sun is Also a Star.


Separated from her Mother:
Fabiola Toussaint's mother is detained by U.S. immigration leaving Fabi to travel to her aunt's house in Detroit by herself. There, Fabiola tries to fit in with her three cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess, and their street-smart Detroit lives. Worried about how she's going to get her mother out of the detention center, Fabiola gets in over her head in this unfamiliar world. American Street is a beautiful book. The story telling is perfection. I love how Fabiola's tale is interspersed with the stories of the new people and places in her life. Best of all is how Ibi Zoboi brings Fabiola's Haitian Voodoo beliefs into the gritty reality of life in Detroit; the result is a book that could almost be classified as magical realism.


Memoir of an Undocumented Teenager:
Sara Saedi immigrated to the United States with her family just after the Iranian Revolution. She didn't find out that she was living in the country illegally until she was thirteen. Americanized is the memoir of Sara's teen years. As she participated in the coming-of-age rituals of an average American teen, worries about deportation were a constant undercurrent. I really enjoyed reading this book. Sara Saedi is exactly my age, and it was fun to read about a teenager who from my generation. Saedi also deftly steers her readers through the ins and outs of Iranian history and culture and what the legalization process is like for an undocumented immigrant. Review copy from NetGalley. 


Finding Her Voice:
Xiomara Batista is the daughter of Dominican immigrants growing up in Harlem. She finds solace in words and spends much of her time writing. The Poet X, a verse novel from slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo, is a coming-of-age story. Xiomara is looking to for her voice. She's trying to figure out who she is in relation to her parents and her twin brother. I really liked how this book approached the question of religion. Xiomara's relationship with her mother made me so sad. I love that Xiomara got involved with the poetry club at school. I really enjoyed her relationship with her brother and her best friend. The writing in this book is superb. (See all those stickers!) I highly recommend the audiobook, which is read by the author. 


Three Generations: 
You Bring the Distant Near tells the story of three generations of Bengali-American women navigating life in America. It begins in the 1960s when Ranee and her daughters Tara and Sonia move to New York City. In subsequent chapters, Tara and Sonia's daughters, Anna and Chantal, get their say. Mitali Perkins's book is incredibly good. Through these five women, she covers a vast range of experiences and expectations. Each woman is an fully-formed individual with attitudes toward race, religion, and culture specific to her. The writing in this book is also quite lovely. I feel like this book is an underrated gem, and I really hope more people will read it. 


1 comment:

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