American Street by Ibi Zoboi


American Street - Ibi Zoboi

First of all, I just want to mention how much I adore this cover. It’s one of my favorites. The book itself is pretty amazing too. I’m a bit of a sucker for immigration stories and this one is quite unique. The story revolves around Fabiola, a Haitian girl who has moved to America. Her mother runs into problems getting into the country but she gets through and is sent to live with her aunt and cousins who grew up in the US. I loved all their names. I love the way they do and don’t say things about the characters they’re given to and I love the way they were shortened to suit each character. It reminded me of reading Freakonomics a really long time ago and the idea of what’s in a name. Does a name really doom someone to a certain kind of life?

The intertwining of the characters is rather amazing and so is the way that entanglement propels the story. Sometimes we’re tangled in more ways than we know and I feel like that’s an interesting statement for any story to make.  I loved the choice to include the “story” of different characters at the end of each chapter. It gives important snippets of people’s lives and fills in some backstory on them while also moving the story itself forward. It fills in the gaps that left me with other perceptions of characters, if that makes any sense. Most of all, I loved the inclusion of voodoo and religion to Fabiola’s character. I don’t actually know anything at all about voodoo, but it was all very interesting and I loved the magical realism, for lack of a better term, that it gave the story and the way Fabiola’s faith informed her decisions and the outcome.

It’s a beautifully written story about the things that happen to people in the US, particularly those of certain backgrounds. The author certain doesn’t hold back any punches when it comes to how people are used in circumstances like Fabiola finds herself in. I’d definitely reread it and recommend it to anyone looking for immigration stories or books by or about women of color. I borrowed the audiobook on Scribd but it’s also available for purchase from several places. Try the cover to be redirected to Booklikes for later or add to Goodreads.

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