After reading her work in Black Enough (read my review here), I wanted to read more of Ibi Zoboi’s writing. American Street is a National Book Award Finalist and I totally understand why. It’s an emotional, riveting, and powerful read that discusses important issues head on.
Fabiola Toussaint and her mother leave Haiti in hope of a better life in America with her aunt and cousins. When her mother is detained in New Jersey, though, Fabiola watches their dreams crumble down to the ground. She is sent ahead to Detroit, being told her mother will join, later. But America is nothing like she imagined. She doesn’t understand her cousins, and her aunt doesn’t seem to even want her here. Little by little, Fabiola learns to live in this new country. Her cousins warm up to her, she befriends a cute boy— except her mother is still being detained and Fabiola can’t truly be home without her.
When Fabiola gets a chance to save her mother, she has to choose whether to sacrifice her new life, or the chance of ever seeing her mother again.
I LOVED this book. Fabiola is a unique, and beautifully written character. Even though the climax happened near the end of the book, I found it was relatively well-paced, the subplots helped lift the story and there were a few valid plot twists which spiced things up as well. One thing I loved about this book was that it accurately represented the American Dream. There were no magical transformations, life didn’t suddenly getting easier, no inspiring stories that made you feel good inside; this book is just an honest portrayal of a family trying to make a better life for themselves.
American Street faced the difficult subjects like drugs, abusive relationships, and police brutality head-on, which is why it deserves a 10/10. It was a beautiful read full of laughter and tears, and it broke my heart just a little having to put it down.