The Immigrant Experience in Fiction
People come to this country for many different reasons, and they face different challenges once they get here.
In the Sydney Taylor Honor book Life, After, Dani lives with her family in Argentina in the early 2000’s. Her family led a comfortable middle-class life there, until the economic crisis hit the family business and her aunt was killed in a terrorist bombing. Now the family is struggling. Many of Dani’s friends have already left the country, and her family soon follows. But it turns out that New York is nowhere near Miami (where Dani’s boyfriend now lives), English isn’t easy, and America isn’t the answer to all of the family’s problems.
Jaya, Maria, and Lola are outsiders in their upscale New Jersey community in Tell Us We’re Home. All three girls are immigrants. Their mothers work for their classmates’ families, which makes fitting in particularly difficult. The story alternates perspectives between the girls as they navigate a world that seems full of prejudice and injustice. This middle school novel delves heart first into social commentary and manages to be a hopeful story that is likely to change your students’ perspectives or open a discussion on immigrant and class issues.
Shooting Kabul is loosely based on the story of author N.H. Senzai’s husband, who left Afghanistan as a child in the late 1970’s. His family fled Soviet forces in the middle of the night, much like Fadi’s family flees the Taliban in the fictional Shooting Kabul. But Fadi’s family does not make it intact: his 6-year-old is left behind. This is a powerful story that will bring recent history to life and perhaps promote understanding of Muslim immigrants.
All three titles are due out in paperback in spring and summer 2011.
Life, After. Sarah Littman. 2010.
Shooting Kabul. N.H. Senzai. 2010.
Tell Us We’re Home. Marina Budhos. 2010.