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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.
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.
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.
This is a must read!! As America confronts the issue of immigration allowed and allowed nots here is a story that bears witness to the story of a young woman's journey into her birth land that is also her migrated to land. It is a sweet mixture of joy love and pain and triumphs. This book celebrates the life of Global AFRIKAN/HayitianCaribbean/American life, you feel like you not only follow the characters but embody their lives, which in truth is part of the respect of honoring life of all humanity. EACH LIFE HAS ITS OWN STORY TO SHARE and I personally enjoyed this life story with the hope that we will hear from many of the characters again in future books. I HOPE "I am your back" meet again, in Heru-tic style.
Wow! This was a beautiful, dark, heart-wrenching narrative about American culture, drug culture, immigration and assimilation and so much more.
Fabiola is gentle on one hand and a fierce warrior on the other. She fades into the background of her outgoing cousins, yet seems to have instincts and bravery that they lack.
This story moves quickly and sucks you in with mini-mysteries and a thread of romance, yet in the end it’s a commentary on the odd juxtaposition of America—-land of opportunity yet also land of gritty truths.
Wonderful. Sophisticated. Recommend for readers 8th grade and up.
This lovely book isn't shy about revealing some ugly American truths. Its main character, Fabiola Toussaint, immigrates to the US from Haiti in what was supposed to be a joint journey. However, her beloved mother is detained as they enter the country, leaving Fabiola to make sense of her new environment while living with her street-wise aunt and cousins in a rough Detroit neighborhood. Fabiola is sincere without being gullible, but her strong sense of who she is and in what she believes face an impossible choice.
With the heated discussion on immigration currently going on in our country, stories like these can offer insight and empathy. But even beyond that, it's a very enjoyable book.