Tuesday, March 20, 2018

American Street- Ibi Zoboi

Title: American Street
Author: Ibi Zoboi
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 2.5 Stars

The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

American Street is a book that follows a Haitian immigrant, Fabiola Toussant, who arrives in America with her mother, only to have her mother detained by US immigration.  Fabiola, who was born in the US and raised in Haiti, then goes to live with her aunt Jo and her cousins, Chantal, Princess (Pri), and Primadonna (Donna), in Detroit. 

Fabiola is expected by her aunts, by her cousins, by pretty much everyone she encounters, to assimilate to American ways immediately - her aunt Jo even says that Fab can't speak her Haitian creole at all, even though Jo uses many Haitian creole phrases in her language regularly.  Being a white lady who was born and raised in America, I can't even imagine what it must have been like for Fabiola to move to this new country and then be expected to just assimilate right away.

Things I love about this book:
* I love love love that this book has a primary focus on black people, and on an immigrant struggling to find her way in a new country.  There are so many books that focus on white people, and that's not bad, but other people deserve to have their cultures and backgrounds shown positively in our books and movies, etc, as well.

*The characters are very well rounded, and well developed.  They are distinct from each other, and it is very easy to tell the characters apart from each other. 

*I love that the author weaves in Fabiola's belief and background in vodou.  I think it's important that this is included, because it is such a part of who Fabiola is.

*I love that the author does tackle some pretty heavy shit in this book, like what it's like to be around drug dealers, or becoming a drug dealer, or living in such harsh poverty, and the violence that is tied into many of those things.  The author tackles those issues well.  (We'll talk about the one issue that wasn't handled well in a minute.)

What I didn't like about this book:
*The abuse of Donna by her boyfriend Dray.  This is the reason I rated this book as only 2.5 stars.  The abuse Dray inflicted upon Donna was so normalized, and everyone just shrugged it off like "Hey, that's just what happens."  They made it seem like this abuse was all okay, because he buys her shit, so it's okay to abuse her.  No.  I don't care who you are, I don't care what shit someone buys you, you do not deserve to be abused.

Other than that one thing, I loved this book.  I think you'll love it. 
Reviews of this book you should check out:

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