American Street

by Ibi Zoboi

Fabiola Toussaint hopes to find the American dream when she comes with her mother... read more

Fabiola Toussaint hopes to find the American dream when she comes with her mother from Haiti to live with her Aunt Jo and her cousins, Chantal, Primadonna, and Princess, on the corner of American Street and Joy Road in Detroit. But when her mother is detained coming into the country, Fabiola must navigate this very different world without her. Finding her place means navigating her cousins’ vibrant yet vastly differing personalities and the sometimes gritty world in which they live while holding on to what she values most from her life in Haiti, including the spiritualism that helps her see her path. In authentic teen voices, Zoboi offers a deft, absorbing narrative that pulls the reader along at an escalating pace. Interspersing Fabiola’s keen observations and an increasingly tense plot with stories of other characters, Zoboi creates a work that is as deep and rich as it is swift and compelling. Detroit, especially American Street, is not just a setting but a powerful presence in a narrative that looks at the immigrant experience and American society through an honest and unsettling lens. Fabiola’s Haitian culture and her immigrant perspective is foundational to a story infused with possibility even as it offers a thoughtful and sharp critique of the institutional racism and classism of both countries. Immigrant or not, it turns out the American dream can be all but unreachable when you’re Black and poor. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2018

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