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The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun. On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the gr The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun. On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?


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The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun. On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the gr The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun. On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

30 review for American Street

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    According to my papers, I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m not a citizen. I’m a “resident alien.” The borders don’t care if we’re all human and my heart pumps blood the same as everyone else’s. 4 1/2 stars. The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much I loved American Street. There's the obvious reasons - it's an ownvoices work about Haitian immigrants in Detroit; there's the general reasons like the extremely sympathetic narrator and the wonderful cast of diverse secondary According to my papers, I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m not a citizen. I’m a “resident alien.” The borders don’t care if we’re all human and my heart pumps blood the same as everyone else’s. 4 1/2 stars. The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much I loved American Street. There's the obvious reasons - it's an ownvoices work about Haitian immigrants in Detroit; there's the general reasons like the extremely sympathetic narrator and the wonderful cast of diverse secondary characters, plus the grittiness and emotion throughout; but then there's the fact that this is a really clever, really different story. Zoboi has crafted a unique blend of Haitian Vodou beliefs with a contemporary American setting. It's really quite fantastic. Fabiola Toussaint was born in America but she has spent almost all her life in Haiti with her Haitian mother. When the two attempt to come to Detroit to join Fabiola's Aunt Jo and cousins - Chantal, Princess (Pri) and Primadonna (Donna) - Fabiola is allowed through security but her mother is detained at JFK by U.S. immigration. From the very first chapter, the emotions and stakes are high. Fabiola's wide-eyed uncertainty as she tries to adjust to this new country, her fear for her mother, and her realization that America may not be the paradise she's dreamed of, all serve to make her story an instantly sympathetic one. I was invested immediately. The characters drive this story. Fabiola's cousins have a reputation as girls no one messes with, yet as the reader, it was hard not to love them. Known as the "Three Bs" for Chantal's brains, Donna's beauty and Pri's brawn, they make a formidable trio. I don’t remember who came up with it first, but Chantal is the brains, Donna is the beauty, and me, I’m the brawn. Three Bees. The biggest, baddest bitches from the west side. Nobody, I mean nobody, fucks with us. But, obviously, nothing here is going to be simple. Not only does she have to try and find a way to be reunited with her Manman, but Fabiola also finds herself caught up in her cousins' crazy worlds. Donna's abusive and drug-dealing boyfriend, Dray, becomes a problem for them all, and even more so when Fabiola begins a relationship with his friend Kasim. Most of the book is told from Fabiola's POV, but we also get the occasional short chapter from each of the other characters too. And this feels very important. The author gives them the spotlight for a short time, allowing them to become human beings, more than secondary characters, more than good guys, bad guys, or in Donna's case a "ho". Zoboi portrays all aspects of the immigrant experience from different perspectives, whilst also offering challenges to slut-shaming, a lesbian romance, and a Muslim love interest. The inclusion of Fabiola's Haitian Vodou faith and references to Papa Legba worked surprisingly well. With authentic characters, Creole slang, and a firm stance that family comes before boyfriends, this is such a strong, special YA contemporary. It's gritty, for sure, with references to drug use, ODing, and violent abuse, but life ain't always pretty. And, despite all of that, American Street has a whole lot of heart. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)

    This was great. The authenticity of this story was really the driving force for me. You could tell that the author knew what she was talking about and could very much relate to the MC. I loved the fact that this story didn't have anything fancy going for it, no deus ex machina or anything like that. Just a pure, truthful portrait of the life of an immigrant who moves to America hoping for new life and comes to find that the new life may not be such an improvement from the old one in some ways. I This was great. The authenticity of this story was really the driving force for me. You could tell that the author knew what she was talking about and could very much relate to the MC. I loved the fact that this story didn't have anything fancy going for it, no deus ex machina or anything like that. Just a pure, truthful portrait of the life of an immigrant who moves to America hoping for new life and comes to find that the new life may not be such an improvement from the old one in some ways. I might do a full video review for this, I'm not sure yet. But needless to say, this was an incredibly powerful read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cristina Monica

    3.5 stars. As an immigrant myself, I connected with Fabiola tremendously. When you move from one place to a very different place – or even if you’re just there to visit – there’s usually a culture shock happening. I felt that. I know what it’s like for people to mock the way you speak or laugh at the unusual words you use. Fortunately, when Fabiola left Haiti and came to the United States of America, she had her aunt and cousins to help her out and have her back. Unfortunately, her mother couldn’t 3.5 stars. As an immigrant myself, I connected with Fabiola tremendously. When you move from one place to a very different place – or even if you’re just there to visit – there’s usually a culture shock happening. I felt that. I know what it’s like for people to mock the way you speak or laugh at the unusual words you use. Fortunately, when Fabiola left Haiti and came to the United States of America, she had her aunt and cousins to help her out and have her back. Unfortunately, her mother couldn’t come with her, seeing that the authorities believe she might overstay her welcome in the country like last time. Rightly so. But that’s not the point. So Fabiola may not be alone in a new environment, but not having her mother there tears at her heart. There are various subplots. It focuses on many different things: obviously, Fabiola’s mother’s situation, Fabiola’s aunt’s illness and lack of employment, Fabiola’s cousin Donna’s abusive relationship and Fabiola’s first love. There is also the conflict of drug dealing. Who provides young people who then get killed with drugs? Could snitching get her mother back? I would have preferred if Fabiola had less of a love life. I think love is great, don’t get me wrong, but it happened too quickly in my opinion. Plus I just find the romance so… irrelevant, considering the strong subject. Fabiola does try to get her mother back, but there are so many distractions around her! To me, although I did like her boyfriend, he felt like one of those distractions. Surprising turn of events. Bittersweet ending. Good characterization. Great diversity and culture. Lovely writing. Seen before romance. Important topics. Not an easy story to forget. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook: Wow....Once again I can't say this enough......"a GREAT 'reader' can make all the difference in the world when it comes to audiobooks"!!! "American Street" is read by Robin Miles. ROBIN MILES IS FANTASTIC!!!!! I 'melted' listening to her voice. Her dialect was soooo delicious-in Caribbean Creole. Robin Miles 'more' than made up for some of the book's shortcomings. There are some shortcomings-- but I thoroughly enjoy this audiobook!!!! I felt for this story from the get go. When Fabiola Audiobook: Wow....Once again I can't say this enough......"a GREAT 'reader' can make all the difference in the world when it comes to audiobooks"!!! "American Street" is read by Robin Miles. ROBIN MILES IS FANTASTIC!!!!! I 'melted' listening to her voice. Her dialect was soooo delicious-in Caribbean Creole. Robin Miles 'more' than made up for some of the book's shortcomings. There are some shortcomings-- but I thoroughly enjoy this audiobook!!!! I felt for this story from the get go. When Fabiola was sitting alone eating out of a paper bag-in her relatives home in Detroit on her first night of arrival -- I wanted to invite her over to my house - for a home cooked meal of Creole cuisine--listen to all she has to say -and love this girl. Fabiola was a very likable character. She was observant - aware of her surroundings - wise and mature beyond her age. Looking at American culture through Fabiola's eyes had me shaking my head --- 'shame-on-us'. Character driven.... Love -life - struggles .....lots of issues to explore- drugs, teenage drinking, violence, moral integrity, being true to oneself, etc. MOSTLY.... THIS IS A VERY ENJOYABLE *AUDIOBOOK*!!!!! Love, love, love the voice-over!!!!

  5. 5 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    Oh wow this was so good and just a little bit like running face-first into a brick wall of EMOTIONS. I'n not even sure what to do with myself right now aughiagh. It's a really powerful story of immigration and poverty and family. It's a brutal and messy story and the ending left me reeling. + The emphasis on family was the best of ever. Like this is not a "nice" family, particularly, but I loved how complex they all were!? Fabiola has immigrated from Haiti to America to live with her cousins. He Oh wow this was so good and just a little bit like running face-first into a brick wall of EMOTIONS. I'n not even sure what to do with myself right now aughiagh. It's a really powerful story of immigration and poverty and family. It's a brutal and messy story and the ending left me reeling. + The emphasis on family was the best of ever. Like this is not a "nice" family, particularly, but I loved how complex they all were!? Fabiola has immigrated from Haiti to America to live with her cousins. Her mum gets caught up in customs and sent to a detention centre, so Fabiola is basically just THROWN into American culture. I felt for her so much. Her three cousins are all around her age, and they immediately just adopt her as their 4th sister. But they do live in a poor part of town and they're mixed up in a LOT of stuff. Donna's boyfriend is like Such Bad News and hits her and Pri is closet (?) queer and Chantal has STUFF going on and like their aunt is a loan shark and just???? Fabiola truly gets thrown into it. (But seriously her cousins can be absolutely horrible at times...and then really nice?!?) + Fabiola is also really precious and sweet! I was worried she'd be a passive character because of that BUT SHE'S NOT. I also loved how she really wanted to make America her home, But she didn't give up her Haitian heritage. There's like a bit of magic in the book (lowkey, I wouldn't call it magical realism?) because she firmly believes in Vodou and her culture is woven into everything she does. It's so good!! (Also the author's note says this is all out of her own experiences too!) + I basically couldn't stop reading. And the story just got more brutal and twisted as it went along. Like the plot is really tight and I loved how it woven things together at the end. And by "love" I mean HELLO I AM SCREAMING. WHY DID YOU DO THAT. + So, in summary, it has: • complex and dynamic female friendships • rich cultural influences • the absolute sweetest romance ever between Fabiola and Kasim <3 • it's really gritty and dark and is not messing about with telling you what life is like • lots of people are awful • there's whispers of belief in magic • and PAIN + My actual only reserve is that I think the writing style has room to grow. It was really good, don't get me wrong, but I just think it could've been a bit deeper at times and smoother. This is only a debut too, so I imagine great things for this author!! ALL IN ALL: A purely excellent #ownvoices story that doesn't shy away from showing how complicated and brutal life can be. It's not an "easy" read (although it is quite fast!) and there were so many times I was raging with Fabiola. Argh. Her situation is often a trainwreck but I loved her character arc and also her love of her culture. Also I would 500% be there for the traditional Haitian way she cooked the Thanksgiving meal. Yes please.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Trina (Between Chapters)

    Video review (spoiler free)- https://youtu.be/5vWLZipIyLg There are plenty of own voices reviews of this book here on Goodreads, so please scroll through those for opinions other than mine! What I liked: -Fabiola was an engaging main character. I also loved her cousins, but the book tried to cover so many topics that I felt we didn't get to know them beyond the surface. -I loved the Haitian Creole culture and spirituality elements. -The theme of being torn between loyalty to your family vs what you f Video review (spoiler free)- https://youtu.be/5vWLZipIyLg There are plenty of own voices reviews of this book here on Goodreads, so please scroll through those for opinions other than mine! What I liked: -Fabiola was an engaging main character. I also loved her cousins, but the book tried to cover so many topics that I felt we didn't get to know them beyond the surface. -I loved the Haitian Creole culture and spirituality elements. -The theme of being torn between loyalty to your family vs what you feel is right was food for thought. What I didn’t like: -Lots of girl hate. Shaming each other for how they wore their hair or makeup, what kind of clothes they wore, and if they’d had sex and with who. You see this fighting within the cousins, and maybe it’s different when family does it, but there’s also this antagonism between school friends. One girl at school physically fights Fabiola over a boy. One of Fabiola’s school friends was constantly antagonized by the cousins because one of their boyfriends flirted with her even though this girl wanted nothing to do with him. -In my interpretation, this narrative normalized abusive relationships. We see Fabiola’s cousin Donna being hit by her boyfriend on page. We see her scars. And as much as Fabiola and all of her cousins look down on this violence, time and time again they wave it off as “Oh, that’s just how they are together,” or “but he provides for me.” Even Fabiola’s love interest defends the abuser, saying “But he really does love her.” Love is not an excuse for hitting someone repeatedly without apology. I feel this is 'normalizing' because Fabiola started out the book feeling strongly against Dre's abuse and by the end she accepts them as a couple because she's been repeatedly told it's just how things are. In this same way, cheating and girl hate are also normalized to Fabiola. She started out seeing them as bad and ends up doing both by the end. -I wished her mom being detained hadn’t been dropped so quickly. Although Fabiola asks about her mom frequently, no one seems to care (not even her mom!) that she’s been in a detainment center for months. This is what the book and the synopsis opened with and it played little to no role in the story. -The ending was a magical deus ex machina that didn’t work for me. Do I want more own voices books that tackle immigration? Absolutely. Do I want more books that pit girls against girls and normalize abusive relationships? NO. That’s the explanation for my rating. I’m not trying to make everyone see things the same way I did, I'm just explaining how I felt. I have been in an abusive relationship and so for me, the way the book handled the violent relationship was the biggest influence on my rating. I was mad more often than not while reading. I think Zoboi is a good writer and for what it's worth the audiobook version of this was fantastic. I would read more by her in the future if it doesn't contain the girl hate and normalization of abuse. If this story had taken those elements out and condensed the story a bit more, I would have really enjoyed it. Here are some books that handle the same topics that I would recommend over American Street: -The Sun Is Also a Star - Common themes are instalove, family, culture shock, and immigration (though a different side of it) -The Hate U Give – Common themes are abusive relationships (not romanticized, not seen on page), family, community, the complexities of loyalty vs snitching, seeing more to a person than one choice (specifically, they both have characters who are drug dealers that are seen beyond that one aspect). -The Girl Who Fell – If you’re wanting a book that shows an abusive relationship with rawness on page, from the character falling for it to overcoming it, this is the book I would recommend. It empowers, does not romanticize.

  7. 5 out of 5

    elena

    The teachers know my story. They know our story—the Three Bees. No. The four bees. Chantal is brains. Donna is beauty. Pri is brawn. I am brave. No one has to tell me this. I know it for myself. As Ibi Zoboi's debut novel, bringing a fictional story that can be relatable to her was something different. She managed to captivate me from the beginning because the story is different, but it was also a different kind of boring. It's not magical, but it's miraculous. It's a story that can touch The teachers know my story. They know our story—the Three Bees. No. The four bees. Chantal is brains. Donna is beauty. Pri is brawn. I am brave. No one has to tell me this. I know it for myself. As Ibi Zoboi's debut novel, bringing a fictional story that can be relatable to her was something different. She managed to captivate me from the beginning because the story is different, but it was also a different kind of boring. It's not magical, but it's miraculous. It's a story that can touch an immigrants heart because one can relate to the main character in many ways. I'm not an immigrant, but my parents are, and I'm sure they are able to relate to Fabiola's character. She had to get accustomed to the culture and traditions of Detroit and she found it to be very different than where she is from and what she is used to. Although she was born in U.S. and could speak English as if she was fluent, she still had trouble finding herself in this country and realizing that there really isn't an American Dream for her to dream after all. American Street by Ibi Zoboi stars off with Fabiola and her mother, about to come to Detroit from Haiti. Fabiola Toussaint was born in America but has spent most of her years with her mother in Haiti, where she is from. When the two decide to come to Detroit to visit her mother's sister, Aunt Jo, there seems to be a problem. Fabiola is allowed to pass through security and get on the plane to go to Detroit, but her mother is stopped and not allowed to travel with Fabiola. Although Fabiola had to get to Detroit alone without her mother, since that was what her mother wanted for her, she still has fear inside of her for her mother, has a hard time getting used to the new country she is living in, accepting the fact that her family isn't complete because her mother isn't there, and realizing that America isn't what she thought it would be. It only reminds her a little of her little town in Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Like I said, I was intrigued when I first started reading this because Fabiola had to travel alone and was trying to figure out what to do when her mother got detained. I couldn't really connect to Fabiola's character since I'm not an immigrant - although I come from an immigrant family. (Does that make me an immigrant? I was born in America but my parents both migrated from El Salvador so...) - and it was hard seeing her struggle with her new family and feel like she was alone. She was a different character from most that I read about, realistic, but she didn't feel real to me. I thought she would act different and I can see where she's coming from, finding out that her mother might just be sent back to Haiti while she was in Detroit about to get the all-known American education and living in the great so-called America, but I had trouble connecting with her. I expected her to change in ways, and although she did, thanks to her cousins, Pri (Princess), Donna (Primadonna), and Chantal, I thought she was gonna end up trying to find herself in this new country and find ways to bring her mother to this state. She didn't. She hung out with her cousins and even became a little famous like them, meeting her cousin's boyfriend and meeting someone herself that she ended up falling in love with. Fabiola wasn't boring, but she also wasn't a fascinating character. I actually found her to be interesting because of the way she would act around her cousins and aunt, but then I got a little tired of her and couldn't bear to see her moving on. When I first read the synopsis for this, I thought this was actually gonna deal with immigration, which is why I bought the book in the first place, but it really didn't. Fabiola kind of moved on, although she was still worried about her mother and wondered where she was, tried to do some things that could bring her mother to her but there wasn't much "immigration" involved. With all this trouble immigrants are having and the fear going around America, I expected this to be similar - something like immigrants being scared because they would be worried about being deported or something. Although the synopsis does mention how Fabiola has to get used to the new culture she's living in and this new state and family she has to grow accustomed to, I couldn't pick up the pace the novel was going through and the struggles Fabiola was going through. Fabiola changed a little too quick and quite immensely. Her boyfriend, Kasim, became a small distraction of her because she even gave up on finding ways to look for her mother since she was focused on Kasim and Kasim only. Her cousins brought their own world to her and she also got a little too stuck on them, but I couldn't blame her. Donna brought her abusive and alcoholic boyfriend, Dray, into Fabiola's world and it was all a mess. Aunt Jo didn't really try to bring her sister back even when she said she was, or maybe she did but I missed it. I do admit, though, her cousins were part of my favorites in this novel. They were strong and vicious, and they didn't miss those spots. The worst described them, and no one messed with them, unless you were Dray or some bitch that couldn't care about what any of them could do. They were royalty at their school, and I agree, and they were also very supportive and caring about Fabiola and her actions, choices, and school life. They were they for her and I loved that. In the beginning, it might seem as if they don't care about Fabiola but really, they love her like if she was a sister to them. They treat her like a sister and not a cousin. They protect her quickly and hugely and don't want anyone checking her out or trying to get with her, but although Kasim was able to, they're happy for her because she met someone. Although this book hasn't lived up to so much hype, it was a powerful novel that could be relatable to so many people out there. It isn't heartbreaking in any way, but it can seem since Fabiola doesn't have her mother with her. This book isn't about love, or heartbreaks, or cheesy relationships/friendships, but instead, it's about young people trying to find the way they lost.

  8. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    Assigned reading for MLIS 7421: Multicultural Youth Literature. “We fold our immigrant selves into this veneer of what we think is African American girlhood. The result is more jagged than smooth. This tension between our inherited identities and our newly adopted selves filters into our relationships with other girls and the boys we love, and how we interact with the broken places around us.” I had really high hopes for American Street because it’s an incredibly important topic that I would l Assigned reading for MLIS 7421: Multicultural Youth Literature. “We fold our immigrant selves into this veneer of what we think is African American girlhood. The result is more jagged than smooth. This tension between our inherited identities and our newly adopted selves filters into our relationships with other girls and the boys we love, and how we interact with the broken places around us.” I had really high hopes for American Street because it’s an incredibly important topic that I would love to see explored more frequently in YA contemporary, especially from own-voices authors like Ibi Zoboi! That reason was more than enough to justify boosting this up to a 4-star rating, in my opinion, because there were just so many powerful quotes (like the one I chose for the block above). As someone who was born and raised in the US and has the privileges of being a US-born white woman, this story definitely helped me see even more ways that my little bubble of privilege has kept me from recognizing how hard and stressful immigrating to the US must be for anyone, but especially people of color. All of that aside, I didn’t enjoy the actual writing of this book very much, sadly. I didn’t love the narrative voice as a whole and I thought the plot kept losing itself. It would focus on one major plot point for a few chapters, and then another wrench would get thrown in, and it would totally pivot. I think that can work well if it’s done in moderation, but there were just so many topics covered that none of them were given the time or exploration they deserved on their own, in my opinion.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rincey

    I almost gave up on this book towards the beginning, but I decided to keep going and I'm glad I did. I love the topics is covers, but I think it suffers from trying to cover too much in too short of a book. The plot feels a bit rushed to me and it would've been nice if this book was longer so it could've developed a little bit more.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I'm trying to read as many books this month as I can by black or bi-racial identifying authors and AMERICAN STREET is one I was really excited about, because it's been on my Kindle for-EVER. It's the story of a Haitian girl named Fabiola who comes from Haiti to live with her cousins in Detroit. Her mother is detained by immigration officials, leaving her in the care of her aunt and cousins, as she tries to navigate not just American cult Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I'm trying to read as many books this month as I can by black or bi-racial identifying authors and AMERICAN STREET is one I was really excited about, because it's been on my Kindle for-EVER. It's the story of a Haitian girl named Fabiola who comes from Haiti to live with her cousins in Detroit. Her mother is detained by immigration officials, leaving her in the care of her aunt and cousins, as she tries to navigate not just American culture, but also negative stereotypes and big city crime. In some ways AMERICAN STREET really reminded me of THE HATE U GIVE; it's a brilliant microcosm of how institutional racism and negative stereotypes boxes people into corners they can't escape from. The most heartbreaking example of this is Chantal, Fabiola's brilliant elder cousin, who wanted to be a doctor but passed up going to a prestigious school to take care of her sick aunt and her sisters, who are mixed up in the local gangs. Fabiola finds this out the hard way too when she tries to do an act of good, cooperating with the local police, only to have someone she cares about suffer grievously from her actions. There are no easy answers here, because life has no easy answers. I loved the heartfelt writing, and the semi magic-realism elements that arose from Fabiola's Voudon and lwa beliefs being incorporated into her narrative. I thought her relationships with her cousins were super complex, giving them an almost Little Women vibe: they didn't get along in a conventional way all the time, but it was obvious how deeply loyal they were to each other. Plus, the banter was great. Interspersed with Fabiola's narrative are brief snippets from those around her, and they really added depth to the story and gave you an idea of where the other characters were coming from. AMERICAN STREET is a book that will break your heart, but it's worth every shattered piece. 3.5 to 4 stars

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Jeffers

    I’ve started and deleted this review a zillion times now because I’m struggling to figure out how to say what I want to say. I seem to be in the minority with my opinion of this book and that’s a position I hate being in when my opinion is mostly somewhere in the middle. There are some things that this book does extremely well, and some things that are rather important about this book. For starters, it’s an ownvoices narrative about a teen who emigrates from Haiti with her mother, who is denied I’ve started and deleted this review a zillion times now because I’m struggling to figure out how to say what I want to say. I seem to be in the minority with my opinion of this book and that’s a position I hate being in when my opinion is mostly somewhere in the middle. There are some things that this book does extremely well, and some things that are rather important about this book. For starters, it’s an ownvoices narrative about a teen who emigrates from Haiti with her mother, who is denied entry into the US while Fabiola is waved on through and goes to stay with her aunt and three cousins. There’s the struggle of adjusting to a new culture essentially on your own, and there’s some Haitian culture woven into the narrative in the form of a Vodou spirit written into the real world in a very Gaiman-ish kind of way. There’s a lot of examination that life in the United States, for some immigrants, isn’t significantly better than it was in their native countries--they still face poverty, violence, disenfranchisement, crime, and a lack of resources. That’s all really important stuff and it should have a place in YA fiction, and so I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading it. But, it’s hard to deny that I was underwhelmed by this book. I think it’s mostly because I went in thinking this book was one thing and it turned out to be something really different. I expected this book to mostly be about the struggle of Fabiola’s separation from her mother and the process of trying to get her legal help/access to the United States. That’s what I came to this book looking for, and I was kind of disappointed that the vast majority of the narrative is actually about Fabiola’s interactions with her three cousins (Chantal, Primadonna, and Princess) and her burgeoning relationship with Kasim, a boy living on the edges of some potentially shady business. I wanted to like the cousins. Known as the “Three Bees,” they are fierce young women who’ve earned that nickname by making it clear that no one messes with them. They flirt with violence and danger, including Donna’s abusive boyfriend Dray. I feel like these things were part of the story to highlight the ways that life in America isn’t always better for immigrants, especially if they’re black, and to make Fabiola’s choice a little harder (more on this in a sec) but I found them a little off-putting. I wanted to shake them and ask, “Why are you behaving like this? Thanks for looking out for Fabiola, but the girl fighting and the being okay with the abusive boyfriend are problematic. ” So Fabiola is presented with a choice between family loyalty and what looks to be, on paper, as determined by her new country, the moral thing to do. There’s a little bit of suspense and mystery folded in regarding some family secrets and this is just about the only time her separation from her mother comes into play--when Fabiola’s trying to decide what to do about those secrets. Sorry, it’s really hard to describe without giving too much away, so here are the spoilers: (view spoiler)[It’s made vague just how the family makes money and how/why the cousins’ father was killed, the intention being that you’re supposed to assume that Donna’s boyfriend could be drug dealer and maybe the cousins’ parents might have been involved in the drug thing, too. It’s a little misdirection-y and honestly, I think I would have liked the story a lot more if this whole thread would have been left out. It’s really only in there to make way for the police officer who dangles Fabiola’s mom as bait to get Fabiola to inform (hide spoiler)] . If the boy side of the story and the potential family secrets, for lack of a better way of describing it, is what Zoboi wanted to focus on, that’s fine. That seems to have been enough for a lot of other readers. It just didn’t do anything for me, personally, and that’s why it’s only a three-star read. I loved the contrast between Haitian culture and life in Detroit, I loved the use of Haitian spirits as a storytelling device, I even loved how Fabiola was forced to figure out her new world on her own...I just didn't love the Dray and Kasim stuff and how it felt, at times, too divested from the immigration stuff.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Hmmmm.... As the characters in this book would say, "I'm not feeling it." A lot of interesting characters and ideas that didn't gel into a cohesive finished product. It felt less like an immigrant's struggle to assimilate than a series of fragmented glimpses into the many challenges of growing up in a blighted inner city, specifically Detroit. I liked it, but I would say a bunch of colorful loose threads never made it into a finished quilt. Too bad.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Elizabeth

    (I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) “We will get my Manman. I exhale deep as we leave the airport. It feels like I’m leaving part of me behind – a leg, an arm. My whole heart.” This was a YA contemporary story about a girl newly arrived in America from Haiti. Fabiola was an okay character, and I felt sorry for her the way her mother was detained by customs and she was left to start her life in America without her. The storyline in thi (I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) “We will get my Manman. I exhale deep as we leave the airport. It feels like I’m leaving part of me behind – a leg, an arm. My whole heart.” This was a YA contemporary story about a girl newly arrived in America from Haiti. Fabiola was an okay character, and I felt sorry for her the way her mother was detained by customs and she was left to start her life in America without her. The storyline in this was about Fabiola starting her new life in America with her cousins, and learning more about what their lives were really like, and where their money came from. I don’t want to say too much, but Fabiola never stopped fighting for her mother to be released into the states, and did everything she could to make that happen. I did find that the story didn’t hold my interest very well though. The ending to this was okay, and there were realistic consequences for Fabiola’s actions. 6 out of 10

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jodi Meadows

    Wow. Just wow. This book should be read far more widely than it is. It should be in every classroom. AMERICAN STREET tackles so many issues in just a few hundred pages -- immigration, choices, drugs, religion, violence, police violence, toxic relationships, family drama, first love, loss . . . So, so many complex issues are touched on in such thoughtful ways. I cannot recommend this book enough. Ibi Zoboi is an incredible writer.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    I picked this audiobook up on a whim. I had finished my previous one, mid-dog walk, and picked one of the first titles available to me, on my library app. I wasn't expecting anything from this and knew little of what the book contained. Initially this was an interesting listen that provided me with a perspective I knew little of; that of a Haitian immigrants in Detroit. I appreciated the diversity as well as the insight to a world I had such little knowledge of. But as the book progressed, I foun I picked this audiobook up on a whim. I had finished my previous one, mid-dog walk, and picked one of the first titles available to me, on my library app. I wasn't expecting anything from this and knew little of what the book contained. Initially this was an interesting listen that provided me with a perspective I knew little of; that of a Haitian immigrants in Detroit. I appreciated the diversity as well as the insight to a world I had such little knowledge of. But as the book progressed, I found I couldn't separate myself from the story or the characters. There was a subtle magical realism aspect that also had me intrigued but the majority of my interest remained in the lives of the four B's this centred around. Contemporary stories are not usually the first I gravitate towards. However, there are a rare few that completely captivate my attention and broaden my understanding of the world. This was one of them. It combined Haitian beliefs in a contemporary American setting and poignantly delivered a story of immigration, grief, loss, and coping in a world that doesn't seem to belong to you, from the ones most immediately affected by it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Misty

    *4.5* I am a mountain A beautiful multi-layered novel that addresses the experiences of black immigrants; attaining the good life isn’t always easy. It's a story that reminds us of the hope that still lives within, and around us. Often times, we just need to remember where we came from and what propelled us to take the journey in the first place. This was a very intimate experience for me. As an immigrant myself, I was able to relate to Fabiola's need to find her footing in a new world. I reali *4.5* I am a mountain A beautiful multi-layered novel that addresses the experiences of black immigrants; attaining the good life isn’t always easy. It's a story that reminds us of the hope that still lives within, and around us. Often times, we just need to remember where we came from and what propelled us to take the journey in the first place. This was a very intimate experience for me. As an immigrant myself, I was able to relate to Fabiola's need to find her footing in a new world. I realize that everyone is climbing their own mountain here in America. They are all tall and mighty and they live in the hearts and everyday lives of the people. We're all trying to find une belle vie - a good life. We're all trying to find our way. And we will!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Roze

    I read this book for the Goodreads' Book Club Diversity in All Forms! If you would like to participate in the discussion here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... I love this book! Not only was it written very well. It covered a topic that I personally can't think of any other book covers, for YA. That topic is immigrating from Haiti to the USA, specifically Detroit. "On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a g I read this book for the Goodreads' Book Club Diversity in All Forms! If you would like to participate in the discussion here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... I love this book! Not only was it written very well. It covered a topic that I personally can't think of any other book covers, for YA. That topic is immigrating from Haiti to the USA, specifically Detroit. "On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?"

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    Update! Full review: http://www.bookishrealmreviews.com/20... Ya'll I read this book in a day! haha I'm surprised. I literally started it yesterday morning and finished it yesterday night. It was the type of book that pulled you in and refused to let you go. I loved that! The writing was gritty meaning there was explicit language and also terms that maybe not everyone would be comfortable with, but to be honest this book was written in a way that made you understand the lifestyle of teens in Detr Update! Full review: http://www.bookishrealmreviews.com/20... Ya'll I read this book in a day! haha I'm surprised. I literally started it yesterday morning and finished it yesterday night. It was the type of book that pulled you in and refused to let you go. I loved that! The writing was gritty meaning there was explicit language and also terms that maybe not everyone would be comfortable with, but to be honest this book was written in a way that made you understand the lifestyle of teens in Detroit. There isn't a whole bunch of love and fluffy things that happen in this book. The writer doesn't hold your hand and try to make you feel comfortable. She makes everything real and I could appreciate that. This is like no other YA novel I've ever read to be honest. I've seen a lot of these elements in urban fiction, but definitely not in YA and I like that she pushed the envelope and challenged readers with the content that makes them feel uncomfortable and content that is outside the box. The only thing that I had a problem with is the fact that this book tried to tackle too many issues at one time. If she would have focused on one central issue I think I probably would have enjoyed it more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kassie

    4-4.5/5. This story is heart wrenching and at many times hard to read because of the content. I also found most of the characters to be rather unlike able. I really only liked Fabiola and Imani. I also felt there were a few things i would’ve liked seen resolved on the page at the end that we didn’t get. I struggled with the love interest as well in this one because he is dismissive of how his best friend treats his girlfriend. He also drops everything on a regular basis for that friend to do some 4-4.5/5. This story is heart wrenching and at many times hard to read because of the content. I also found most of the characters to be rather unlike able. I really only liked Fabiola and Imani. I also felt there were a few things i would’ve liked seen resolved on the page at the end that we didn’t get. I struggled with the love interest as well in this one because he is dismissive of how his best friend treats his girlfriend. He also drops everything on a regular basis for that friend to do some implicitly shady things. I felt like he had somewhat of a good head on his shoulders but i wanted to dive further into how fine a line he was walking and we never got there. I also wanted more about Matant Jo. What is going on there? I feel like i was missing something but maybe that was a me problem. I still LOVED this book. I absolutely loved seeing Vodou culture on the page - I’ve never seen it in a book before so i was excited to see some of what I’ve learned portrayed so positively in fiction. I loved the Haitian own voices rep as well. It was another context I’ve never read before. Also, everything felt very real. For as wild as everything goes in this story, nothing felt over the top or unbelievable (except the little bit of magical realism/religious etc parts). But nothing felt too bad to be real or anything like that. Trigger warnings: Abuse - emotional, physical

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sajda (Across the Words)

    Had high hopes for this one but unfortunately it fell short. I think this book was trying to do too much and didn't do justice to the topics it was trying to address: immigrant assimilation, detainment, Haitian traditions, drugs in a community, growing romance, violence in Detroit, etc. If it had focused more on the actual plot line (getting the MC's mother out of a deportation situation), it would have felt more developed. Also, I didn't really connect with any of the characters -- I found it h Had high hopes for this one but unfortunately it fell short. I think this book was trying to do too much and didn't do justice to the topics it was trying to address: immigrant assimilation, detainment, Haitian traditions, drugs in a community, growing romance, violence in Detroit, etc. If it had focused more on the actual plot line (getting the MC's mother out of a deportation situation), it would have felt more developed. Also, I didn't really connect with any of the characters -- I found it hard to be interested in what was happening around them. This book may work for others but it just wasn't for me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    sarah xoxo

    dnf at 50% I honestly thought I would love this. Or at the very least like it. DNF'ing wasn't even a thought that crossed my mind when I picked up American Street. I am really drawn to novels about the immigrant experience, the clashing of two cultures and the troubles that can arise as a result. I am so glad that own voices stories such as this one exist, but unfortunately it missed the mark for me. American Street begins with our main character Fabiola making the journey from Haiti to the US wi dnf at 50% I honestly thought I would love this. Or at the very least like it. DNF'ing wasn't even a thought that crossed my mind when I picked up American Street. I am really drawn to novels about the immigrant experience, the clashing of two cultures and the troubles that can arise as a result. I am so glad that own voices stories such as this one exist, but unfortunately it missed the mark for me. American Street begins with our main character Fabiola making the journey from Haiti to the US with her mother- until her mother is detained by US Immigration. Fabiola makes it to American Street, where her aunt and cousins live, and the book is about how she navigates this new life. After reading the synopsis, you'd probably think that it would be kind of a big deal that her mum is detained, alone, and uncontactable-no? But it really wasn't that big a deal to Fabiola after the initial shock. This may be what sparked my dislike of the book, but it isn't what caused me to DNF it. That prize would have to go to the characters. ➽Fabiola - immature - pushover - personality-less ➽Pri and Donna - I'm combining them because I can never remember which is which - they had potential to be really interesting and complex but noooo - unlikeable ➽Chantel - the only character I didn't outright hate - could be because we weren't told anything about her so I never got the opportunity to hate her - has major eldest child energy ➽Kasim - kind of gross - super pushy and doesn't take no for an answer - don't get me started on him - ok, you've got me started and now I have to explain myself better: As soon as Kasim was introduced I could just tell that he was going to be the love interest, but I was hoping he wouldn't because not only was he one-dimensional and bland, he was also kind of obnoxious. As soon as he meets her he calls her sweetheart, and is overly forceful despite her being uncomfortable. And, when she walks away from him, he cat calls her? Not cool. "Damn, Shorty! That dress!" ewwwww. Later, after only knowing each other for what I assume is a couple of days, he calls her his 'bougie girl' to which she says "no, no, no, no. I am not your girl". The message is pretty clear huh? But then *a few moments later* they go on a date, so who knows. Just to top it off, he makes sure she knows that "You're different from a lot of these other girls out here." A direct quote. Sigh. In addition to the main love interest, I really did not appreciate the way a side romance was portrayed. I just want to reiterate that I only made it half way through, so something may have happened in the last half to clear this up- but I have read a few reviews that make it seem like it was not. The relationship was abusive, but it seemed almost romanticised. Here is a quote that made me want to stop reading right then and there. It is a conversation between Fabiola and the boy in the relationship. "But you hurt her" "She hurts me, too. She breaks my fucking heart every day" no no no and no. You do not justify hitting your girlfriend by saying she breaks your heart. The relationship is toxic and should not be presented as anything else. As if all that wasn't enough, I did not like the low key girl hate that was present through ( the first half at least of) the book. Here are just a couple examples: "She just dresses like a ho" and "With her fake face and fake hair" Something else that impeded my enjoyment of the story is entirely subjective, but I thought I should mention it in case anyone else wanted a heads up. The amount of swearing is excessive. don't get me wrong, I'm not a prude and I can handle curses in real life and in my books. But when it feels like every second word the characters say is a profanity, I feel like swearing myself. Overall, while some of the things I mentioned might seem overly fastidious or nit-picky, it all combined to make my reading experience a not great time to say the least. That being said, I do have plans to pick up Ibi Zoboi's sophomore novel, Pride. The premise sounds intriguing, so I hope I enjoy that one more!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    I was a bit hesitant going into this after reading reviews that this book wasn't really on immigration as I had hoped, but I had still wanted to give it a try. And I'm so glad I did. This is the story of a girl trying to find her place in Detroit after coming over from Haiti. (Fabiola was born in America & went back to Hiati; her mother & her traveled back to the U.S. to live in Detroit with Fab's aunt & cousins. Her mother is detained while Fab's is allowed to go. I was hoping to see Fabiola tr I was a bit hesitant going into this after reading reviews that this book wasn't really on immigration as I had hoped, but I had still wanted to give it a try. And I'm so glad I did. This is the story of a girl trying to find her place in Detroit after coming over from Haiti. (Fabiola was born in America & went back to Hiati; her mother & her traveled back to the U.S. to live in Detroit with Fab's aunt & cousins. Her mother is detained while Fab's is allowed to go. I was hoping to see Fabiola try to do more to get back her mother & that whole process & while I admit I do still wish that had happened, I still enjoyed how the story unfolded.) Zoboi creates a fascinating tale of Fabiola's time in Detroit. I loved how her cousins- Donna, Chantal & Pri were done. They felt real; held authentic conversations & were well-developed. Aunt Jo did get on my nerves a lot, but in the end, it makes sense for what her character did. Dray pissed me off; I loved Kasim & was heartbroken with his outcome. Papa Legba was a really interesting character & it was nice to learn about Vodou in Haitian culture, as well as Haitian dialogue. A small point to note but one worth noting all the same: I really appreciated the causal mentioning of Pri's sexuality, but not making it a big deal or focus point. These little things matter & are noticed. While this story is not about trying to find yourself in a new country (as I felt Fab's family wasn't new to her, it was just a new situation), she still finds herself at the crossroads of American & Joy Street. She quickly becomes involved in a case of drugs on the street (she is coaxed to become the snitch, as she is promised her mother can become an American citizen if she finds out who the kingpin is). While thinking it's someone whom she really doesn't care what happens to their outcome, she finds out it's someone a lot closer to home. While being tempted to reveal their identity because she wants her mom back, she is reluctant because she doesn't want to turn on who it really is. Things get messy- as things involving drugs always do- but there is substance here in Fab trying to do the right thing while holding onto her concept of the American Dream. Should she tell the truth & will she ever find herself on Joy Street? Will she ever be able to get her mother back? I know I'm all over the place here & I apologize. I sometimes write reviews several days after finishing to gather my thoughts as well as a measure to see how much I remember/the book made an impact on me. I would like to note Kasim & Fabiola's relationship. It was cute & genuine. One of my biggest complaints in YA is all the instalove romances. I also don't like a lot of the significant others because I feel like they are in the way & don't contribute anything (I know, I'm horrible!!), but Kasim did add to the story & I really enjoyed that. Overall this is a great ride if you're willing to forgive the story not being more about Fab & her mother. I look forward to Zoboi's future releases.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    American Street is a YA novel focused on a girl named Fabiola Toussaint who emigrates with her mother from Haiti to live with her aunt and 3 cousins in Detroit. On the way her mother gets sent to an Immigration Detention facility in New Jersey, so Fabiola goes by herself to Detroit. The teachers know my story. They know our story—the Three Bees. No. The four bees. Chantal is brains. Donna is beauty. Pri is brawn. I am brave. No one has to tell me this. I know it for myself. “Bee” here also stands for American Street is a YA novel focused on a girl named Fabiola Toussaint who emigrates with her mother from Haiti to live with her aunt and 3 cousins in Detroit. On the way her mother gets sent to an Immigration Detention facility in New Jersey, so Fabiola goes by herself to Detroit. The teachers know my story. They know our story—the Three Bees. No. The four bees. Chantal is brains. Donna is beauty. Pri is brawn. I am brave. No one has to tell me this. I know it for myself. “Bee” here also stands for another “b” word that the young women all own in their own ways in this book, set in Detroit’s gritty west side, at the corner of American Street and Joy Road. Not having a parent around is kind of a common condition in contemporary YA novels, allowing for the main characters to grow up fast. Fabiola’s cousins get her to dress in ways her mother would not approve of, and hang with boys at parties she would never allow. She is forced to make decisions for herself that have dangerous implications for her future. So Fabiola has some goals in the book; 1) to get her mama out of ICE detention; 2) to rescue Donna from her abusive drug dealer boyfriend Dray, and 3) to find a way to be Haitian in the process of integrating into American society. In the process she also begins to fall in love with Kasim, an “associate” of Dray. She is guided in her various goals and decisions in part by her mythological connection to Vodou through a character she thinks may be Papa Legba. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papa_Legba Whether this guy is Papa Legba or not is not exactly clear, but I think the character is used pretty effectively as an intermediary between the spirit world and humanity to symbolize the crossroads at which Fabiola exists. I like what I thought were pretty realistic and complex relationships between the girls, with the 3 Bs protecting their new-in-town cuz. The profane language feels real to me. The threat of violence everywhere feels real. The depiction of the urban big city world of poverty, making drugs seem almost necessary for survival, could be a mere cliché, but seems well done to me. I like the magic, the loa that Fabiola calls on for strength. I guess I thought of this as about a 3.5 rating, rounded up to 4 because on first reading, I was surprised by the way the book turned from a well done but fairly predictable immigrant story to something richer and scarier. Now, how one views the (to me, surprising) events of the last pages of the book will determine whether you like this book or not. How these events played out in the story seemed to divide the YA class with which I read the book. Some felt eh, they didn’t quite believe it would all go down like it did, and some people really liked it. I guess I liked it well enough. Was Papa Legba involved? I like the implication that the protection Fabiola was praying for may have actually come true. Let’s just say that in the process, Fabiola’s various goals coincide and conflict in ways she doesn’t anticipate. Though I bought the book, on Elyse’s advice I listened to the book read by Robin Miles, which I turn recommend to you.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    4.5* This is an incredible story. I read it in one sitting because it is so engrossing. I would easily recommend this book to most readers.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Giselle

    An Electronic Advance Reader Copy was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for review. Quotes have been pulled from an e-ARC and may be subject to change. Fabiola moves to the USA from Haiti, but her mother is stuck in New Jersey because her Visa expired. She ends up staying with her Aunt Jo and three cousins. Will she have the courage to take down the drug lords who rule the streets of Detroit so she can get her mother back? I loved reading through Fabiola's viewpoint. She sees the American wa An Electronic Advance Reader Copy was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for review. Quotes have been pulled from an e-ARC and may be subject to change. Fabiola moves to the USA from Haiti, but her mother is stuck in New Jersey because her Visa expired. She ends up staying with her Aunt Jo and three cousins. Will she have the courage to take down the drug lords who rule the streets of Detroit so she can get her mother back? I loved reading through Fabiola's viewpoint. She sees the American way through new eyes and I can understand how she was treated differently just because she was foreign. Even to her own family, they wanted her to assimilate so quickly, like it's easy for a person to disrupt their entire livelihood and adjust to American culture. I loved that she stayed true to her faith and used it to help guide her in everything she did, which is what faith does. I loved her boyfriend, he was just the sweetest, honest and hard working guys in the book. Even though the relationship escalated quickly, it was still so nice to read them interacting with each other because they're just too cute. The writing is excellent and even though things start to heat up by the end, I knew what was coming and promptly hated it at the same time. I liked how they are mere passages from the other characters so we can also see how they think and feel. The characters really make the book special and I'm glad I requested this one to read. RATING 4/5 QUOTES My two paths meet at this corner, and it seems like I have to choose one. One street represents a future, the other leads to a different kind of life. My curses are all wrong. My swag, as they call it, is off. But in my head, I sound just like them. I sound American. I am not tired of fighting. I am just starting. How is this the good life when even the air in this place threatens to wrap its fingers around my throat?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Francina Simone

    Omg.... so much to unpack here... review to come. I'm in awe

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Initial reaction: I enjoyed every moment of this novel because it was an emotional and realistic journey with a strong protagonist whose narrative voice stayed with me long after I finished the story. It's a difficult read to swallow in places because of the actions of some of the characters, but in the end, I was rooting for Fabiola to find her footing. Full review: I have so many emotions upon finishing "American Street" - and that's a very good thing. It's a story with many layers to its narrati Initial reaction: I enjoyed every moment of this novel because it was an emotional and realistic journey with a strong protagonist whose narrative voice stayed with me long after I finished the story. It's a difficult read to swallow in places because of the actions of some of the characters, but in the end, I was rooting for Fabiola to find her footing. Full review: I have so many emotions upon finishing "American Street" - and that's a very good thing. It's a story with many layers to its narrative, brought to life by the vivid narration and characterization throughout. "American Street" tells the story of Fabiola, a Haitian immigrant arriving in the United States, but separated from her mother along the way when she's detained by authorities at the airport. Fabiola ends up in Detroit, living with her aunt and three cousins as she tries to adjust to life in America between waiting for efforts to get her mother back and pursuing her own ends to make it happen. This is only part of the story, as Fabiola reflects on her experiences in Haiti, struggles to fit in alongside her cousins at school, discovers some tough truths involving the people around her, both friends and enemies alike. I think Fabiola is one of the most well rounded and voiced protagonists I've read in a YA work in a long time. She's fiercely loyal to her family, faith (she practices Voudou, which is probably one of the few times it's actually portrayed in a non-stereotypical way that I've seen in many works, including YA), and goals. She's not without flaws, and the way she recounts her experiences in Haiti alongside her difficult adjustment to life in Detroit is vibrant and vivid. The relationship between her and her cousins (Primadonna, Chantal, and Pri) is wonderfully done. I liked the rolling banter between them in places, allowing the reader to get to know them in the way that is close to Fabiola, but also for their own motivations. The narrative allows a deeper eye into some of the side-characters through monologue snippets delivered between chapters in a seamless way. I was even taken by the scenes of romance and relationship building that I saw through the narrative. The diversity of the characterization feels natural, well established, and refreshing to read in many respects. I'll admit "American Street" hit me hard on a number of emotional levels because of the way the story unfolds and the turns of conflict. The narrative takes an honest look at relationship abuse, drug dealing and abuse, inner-city life, cultural clashes, among a number of other subjects. One could say that in some ways, there quite a few threads that aren't completely tied, but its Fabiola's resilience and transformation that carries the momentum of the story despite places where the story could've had better closure. The weight of Fabiola's decisions also factor into the story and give some raw moments of grief and coming to terms that really stood out for me. In the end, I really appreciated the narrative journey that "American Street" took me on, and it's one I'd definitely read again. Overall score: 4/5 stars.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Read In Colour

    It can be difficult to play by the rules when you don’t know what those rules are. So finding herself in Detroit without her mother and with family she only knows from phone calls is a bit overwhelming for Fabiola. Readers of a certain age will remember when we first met Omar Tyree’s Flyy Girl, Tracy Ellison, over 20 years ago. Fabiola’s Detroit cousins, known as the Three Bs (brains, beauty & brawn), Chantal, Donna and Princess are Tracy meets the Gross sisters from the Proud Family, hardened i It can be difficult to play by the rules when you don’t know what those rules are. So finding herself in Detroit without her mother and with family she only knows from phone calls is a bit overwhelming for Fabiola. Readers of a certain age will remember when we first met Omar Tyree’s Flyy Girl, Tracy Ellison, over 20 years ago. Fabiola’s Detroit cousins, known as the Three Bs (brains, beauty & brawn), Chantal, Donna and Princess are Tracy meets the Gross sisters from the Proud Family, hardened in ways that Fabiola isn’t. Is it that Fabiola is rooted in Haitian tradition and culture, while her cousins have become Americanized? She’s not preoccupied with trendy clothes and weaves or getting her nails done. Her simple wish is to be reunited with her mother, whatever the cost. I love that even as Fabi begins to adjust to life in Detroit and learns about the family business, she never loses who she is. On the outside, she does dress differently, goes out with friends, and keeps a few secrets, but she still loves her natural hair, she still says her prayers at night, she’s still a bit naive and she can still differentiate between wrong and right. She’s a typical teenager, but has stronger convictions and moral codes than most. Ibi Zoboi never lets her lose that throughout the story. With a foot firmly planted in both the crossroads of Haiti and Detroit and American Street and Joy Road, she faces difficult decisions when it comes to her cousins, her aunt, her mother and her new love. Fabi sees Papa Legba in the homeless man on the corner where others see a bum. It’s her deep faith in Vodou that allows her to see him for who he is and, because of her faith, Zoboi is able to bring a bit of mystical, supernaturalness to the story. It's this faith that keeps Fabi believing that one day she'll be reunited with her mother. Now let's talk about this gorgeous book cover! It caught my eye while I was browsing the publisher catalog and I immediately knew that I wanted to read the story before I even knew what it was about. Publishers have to know that covers mean things and can make all the difference when it comes to a reader picking up a book. Also, it's important to note that though the main character is in high school, this is a great read for all ages. Ibi Zoboi has such a way with words and characters that I’m looking forward to whatever she puts out next.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Niki Marion

    An exceptionally crafted novel that somehow hits heavy-hitting topics like immigration, assimilation, poverty, the delicate balance between spirituality and superstition, police brutality, drug use, and the ever-present worry about fitting in with heart, complexity, and depth. Our narrator Fabiola arrives in Detroit after her mother is detained on entry to the United States from Haiti. Her teenage cousins arrive at the airport to pick her up and bring her to her new home, which, to Fabiola, will An exceptionally crafted novel that somehow hits heavy-hitting topics like immigration, assimilation, poverty, the delicate balance between spirituality and superstition, police brutality, drug use, and the ever-present worry about fitting in with heart, complexity, and depth. Our narrator Fabiola arrives in Detroit after her mother is detained on entry to the United States from Haiti. Her teenage cousins arrive at the airport to pick her up and bring her to her new home, which, to Fabiola, will always be empty without her mother, and so she resolves to do everything in her power to get her mother released. Even if that means she has to confront harsh truths about her aunt and cousins, who have been living in America for years now. Though the narrative is mainly focalized through Fabiola, readers hear from other characters in italicized autobiographical vignettes between chapters. These departures from Fabiola's point of view help readers to piece together motivations and intentionality to come to greater understandings about the events that transpire in the novel. Equal parts heart warming and wrenching, Ibi Zoboi's expertly woven novel will touch readers' souls and resolve their spirits.

  30. 4 out of 5

    NerdyJediGymnast

    Me: *burst into tears and screams* Boyfriend: *comes in* WHAT HAPPENED?! Are you ok?! Who got hurt?! Me: *holds up book* Boyfriend:.................Oh my God, Cookie *hugs me* Its not real- Me: IT IS TO ME RTC

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