As we pile around a dinner table groaning under the weight of too much food, surrounded by family and close friends this Thanksgiving weekend, we reflect on what this holiday means to us. Its messy and complicated beginnings aside, we primarily celebrate being close and spending quality time with our nearest and dearest. We are thankful for bountiful harvests that provides more food that we could ever consume. We are thankful for our health and that of our loved ones. We are thankful for our dogs (and cats). We are thankful our parents were able to emigrate to this country just one generation ago leading us to this very celebration.
But one year after the election, and with just 10 months of this administration, we are struck that we have more to be worried about than ever before. Does this country embrace its previous values–that which enabled our parents to escape their particular circumstances and come here as immigrants and refugees? Currently, our Dreamers are at stake and vulnerable, as the fight for DACA heads to the Supreme Court. Those from certain countries are now banned from entering this country. We are told that certain humans are illegal and should be deported as tens of thousands are taken to camps. As a result, detention center populations are booming. Considering we are giving thanks for this melting pot we live in, these new tactics seem everything but great. Inspired by these current events, we have created a reading list, the purpose of which is to raise awareness and evoke empathy towards immigrants and immigration (illegal and otherwise) into the United States.
The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah: Mina, an Afghani refugee, befriends Michael, a boy who revels in his family’s anti-immigration stance. He’s a supporter of their Aussie Values group and attends rallies. Mina has escaped her difficult life in Afghanistan, only to be met with hostility. This book is chock full of social commentary on racism, refugees, border control–met head-on my strong writing and character development.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi: After Fabiola’s mother is detained by US immigration, she must learn to navigate Detroit and, by extension, life in the United States, which is leaps and bounds different from her previous life in Port-Au-Prince. Will Faviola be able to navigate this new life with distant family and without her network of “home?”
The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers: When a wealthy Mexican family immigrates to the United States, typical assumptions about Mexican immigration will be challenged. Unlike most books in this thread, a light-hearted take on immigration to the US in which telenovelas play a huge role.
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon: Natasha has 12 hours left in the country before she is deported back to Jamaica. This book is about her, her family, their immigration to the US, the sun, the stars, the moon and the universe.
Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar: In the 1960’s, there was a huge boom of post-Castro Cuban immigration. This is Ruthie’s, the Hop Scotch Queen of Brooklyn, autobiographical story of being the daughter of Cuban immigrants in the 1960’s.
Refugee by Alan Gratz: Refugee weaves together three refugee stories as different as can be, across the spans of time and place, but with one underlying theme: hope. From 1930’s Nazi Germany to Cuba 1994 to Syria 2015, these stories will evoke
The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt: Both a love story and a story of immigration in limbo, this book discussess racism, “illegal” immigration to the US and PTSD.
What are your favorite books about immigration?