Review: ‘American Street’ focuses on the immigrant experience

Ibi Zoboi is the Haitian- American young adult author behind “American Street,” published in 2017. Zoboi implements some of her own experiences with immigration and adjusting to American culture. The plot follows Fabiola “Fabulous” Toussaint on her new life in Detroit when she’s separated from her mother while immigrating from Haiti. She struggles to embrace the American culture while also wanting to preserve her roots. The mystery that follows why her mother is being detained and how her cousins are getting large amounts of money are amazing subplots to the incredible storyline that hits home for many first-generation immigrants who can relate to the struggle of adjusting to a new life.

I loved this book with all my heart and soul because I felt that I could connect to Fabiola with her internal conflict between her roots and her new life. Though I’m a second-generation Mexican American, the conflict between staying true to my culture while also embracing the American side is constant. However, seeing how Fabiola makes peace with the two only emphasizes how I can too, and that no matter where we come from, there are universal similarities between the immigrant experience.

With the U.S. being a place of hope, it draws how the immigrant experience is diverse. Though immigration is still a political topic, I believe reading this may bring those empathy for what immigrants endure when they come. Some may categorize immigrants as dangerous, stories like these highly contrast that stigma with showing how they can come as determined, hopeful teenagers.

I highly recommend this book because it is compelling, and also offers a new perspective. A piece that I found very interesting to follow was that Fabiola was a natural citizen by birth, but had only just returned to America after living in Haiti for all her life. It only adds to the clash between the two cultures that she fosters. I believe that those who are unfamiliar with the immigrant experience can gain a new lens on what immigrants struggle with when they adjust to a new culture. I learned a lot from reading along Fabiola’s story because although there are similar experiences, every story is unique.

There are moments of triumph, grief, acceptance, and mystery all in the pages of this book. I think I’ve gained more knowledge and culture by reading this piece of art. I cannot wait to read more of Zoboi’s work, and I highly encourage everyone to engage in this fantastically done work.