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Someone else mentioned that this story ends where "The Hate U Give" picks up, and I honestly think that's the best way to describe it. It's a great story. I still think about it sometimes. Really powerful.
Whoa....I resumed this book today and literally finished it today. So fast paced, so much action! I truly enjoyed this novel considering I did not expect this book to do well. American Street is about Fabiola Toussaint who immigrates to America with her mother from Haiti, but upon arrival, her mother is detained at customs, leaving Fabiola to navigate a new country and culture on her own with some help from her cousins and aunt.
The theme of this story is based on Fabiola trying to make sense of what happened to her mom and then trying to find a way for her mother to join her. As she begins to settle into her new environment, she meets and falls in love with a young guy named Kasim Anderson. Anderson will teach her about her new world and also serve to temporarily fill the void that Fabiola only desires for her mother. So many events occur that keep the storyline interesting and moving, but I must say, it is also sad. Honestly, I experienced many emotions while reading this book, and when I finished it, I still had all the characters I met in my mind. I finished this book in two sittings, though I did take a break because of work.
I gave this book 4 stars on GoodReads, but it is technically 4.5 out of 5.0. Zoboi did a great job writing this book. Our main character, Fabiola Toussaint, is well developed and the theme is real and will resonate with many readers who have foreign blood in them. I enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.
I teach high school- both I and the many students I have lent this book to have loved it. The story is piercing, exciting and page turning. More than other young adult novels I have read recently this book had a strong literary lyricism driven by a magical realism that blended Haitian voodoo mythology with the characters and action of the story. It was refreshing to read a YA book that had artistic depth. I'm back to order a third copy so I can keep loaning it out more widely.
Wow. Based on everything I'd heard (and essays I've read by this author), I knew I was going to love this book but was not fully prepared for its intensity and richness. As a faith a folklore nerd, I was hooked right away by Fabiola's fascination with the lwas of Haitian Vodou--that layer was gorgeous, deep, poetic, and masterfully handled. And then there are the rich and vibrant characters, the sweetness of first love, the heart-racing intensity of plot twists I will not reveal (and that you will not see coming!). It's a story of a girl, a city, immigrant joy and immigrant woes, heartbreak, love, and the dance among cultures in America's streets.
I'm trying to read as many books this month as I can by black or bi-racial identifying authors and AMERICAN STREET is one I was really excited about, because it's been on my Kindle for-EVER. It's the story of a Haitian girl named Fabiola who comes from Haiti to live with her cousins in Detroit. Her mother is detained by immigration officials, leaving her in the care of her aunt and cousins, as she tries to navigate not just American culture, but also negative stereotypes and big city crime.
In some ways AMERICAN STREET really reminded me of THE HATE U GIVE; it's a brilliant microcosm of how institutional racism and negative stereotypes boxes people into corners they can't escape from. The most heartbreaking example of this is Chantal, Fabiola's brilliant elder cousin, who wanted to be a doctor but passed up going to a prestigious school to take care of her sick aunt and her sisters, who are mixed up in the local gangs. Fabiola finds this out the hard way too when she tries to do an act of good, cooperating with the local police, only to have someone she cares about suffer grievously from her actions.
There are no easy answers here, because life has no easy answers.
I loved the heartfelt writing, and the semi magic-realism elements that arose from Fabiola's Voudon and lwa beliefs being incorporated into her narrative. I thought her relationships with her cousins were super complex, giving them an almost Little Women vibe: they didn't get along in a conventional way all the time, but it was obvious how deeply loyal they were to each other. Plus, the banter was great. Interspersed with Fabiola's narrative are brief snippets from those around her, and they really added depth to the story and gave you an idea of where the other characters were coming from.
AMERICAN STREET is a book that will break your heart, but it's worth every shattered piece.
Verdict: a must-add for high school libraries and a heartbreaking account of immigration and the pursuit of the American dream from a rare cultural perspective. I will be shouting this book from the rooftops. Due to language and drug references, I concur with the grades 9-12 recommendation from Booklist and School Library Journal.
Ibi Zoboi’s new novel, “American Street” is a gritty and haunting tale of a Haitian teenage immigrant, Fabiola Toussaint, who is separated from her mother when her mother is detained by immigration officials at the airport upon reaching America. Fabiola is then left alone to travel to meet her aunt and cousins in Detroit, where she is met with a harsh and unexpected view of the Unites States on the corner of American Street and Joy Road. In the family’s house on Detroit’s west side, Fabiola struggles to maintain her connection to the Haitian vodou of her heritage while striving to fit in and make a life of her own. Fabiola’s relationships with her cousins, new friends and love interest are strikingly poignant and raw, leaving her vulnerable to heartbreak and pain while she attempts to reunite with her mother.
I read this book at full speed, not wanting to miss a single word while simultaneously racing to discover the conclusion to the story. I highlighted about 50 different selections that I wanted to return to and ponder, and was struck at how timely this novel is at this time of political strife regarding immigration and racial tensions. Zoboi herself is a Haitian immigrant, although she came to America when she was four years old rather than a teen as Fabiola did. A wonderful author’s note in the book shares her motivation for writing this story and the connection with the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012, along with a rich backstory on the cultural Haitian heritage woven throughout the book.
Review published originally on my Goodreads and Instagram (@theloudlibrarylady)
(Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy of this book through Edelweiss ~ all opinions are my own)
A beautifully written book that combines Haitian Vodou, spirituality and Creole culture with contemporary American way of life. This novel is a fantastic blend of fear, hope, crime, love, abuse, poor judgements, faith, life choices and more. All that leads to a bittersweet ending.
Fabiola is an US born Haitian teenager who lived most of her life in Haiti together with her mother. When the two of them are attempting to return to the US to secure a better life, Fabiola’s mother is being detained by US immigration. Throughout the story we learn of the reason why that happened.
Fabiola lives with her aunt Jo and three cousins in Detroit. While trying to adjust to the new country, she constantly misses her mother and tries her best to have her released, so that the two of them can have a better future. Slowly however she realizes that United States may not be the paradise on Earth which she dreamt of, and that life in Detroit has own difficulties. Her family, although hard for her not to love, have own problems and make questionable and not always the right choices in life.
“The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun”.
When it becomes obvious that nobody is able to help Fabiola’s mother, she turns deeper to her Haitian Vodou faith, which blends fantastically in the story and adds it a new edge, which I did not find in another book.
All characters are well developed, some are more likeable than others. Some are very easy to dislike. But they all make the story full.
I absolutely loved this novel and will remember it for a long time. It deserves the spot on the shelf for books to be read again in the future.
Ibi Zoboi's debut novel is a gripping, heart-bending tale about immigration and the illusion of the American dream. The author explores the dimensions of familial bonds, first loves, intimate partner violence, and so much more. Zoboi's writing calls to mind the early work of Edwidge Danticat, not only in its concern for the interior lives of Haitian-descended peoples, but also in its Vodou influenced imagery and the lyricism of its prose. However, while the novel's characters are intriguing and well-rounded, I didn't find them affecting.The most emotionally stirring parts of the novel are perhaps the soliloquies between the chapters. In those places, each major character gives the reader a glimpse into their respective thoughts, histories, emotions, and motivations. The novel is written in the first person from Fabiola's point of view, but even she does not seem to emotionally endear herself to readers. For all of the novel's tragedy and beauty, it is this emotional distance which renders its story and characters a bit flatter than I'd hoped for them to be. Nonetheless, the novel is a daring and necessary text.