Books Reviews Young Adult Fiction

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

August 12, 2020
American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Oh wow.

I could keep my review at that, to be honest, and it'd sum up my thoughts perfectly.

However, that wouldn't be all that helpful to you now, would it?

Firstly I'd like to point out this is an own voices novel in regards to the immigration and Haitian nationality of the main character, Fabiola and some of the secondary characters.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is how well that 'magical realism' is blended with a modern setting. I placed that in apostrophes as the book is based in Haitian Vodou which isn't so much magic as it appears more a religion or system of beliefs. Please correct me if I'm wrong with my explanation there. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it and was thrilled when I recognised the names of certain prominent figures.

Fabiola has immigrated to America with her mother. Upon entering the country Fabiola is allowed through but her mother is detained at the border. From there the novel follows Fabiola navigating every uncertainty you can think of, from living with a family she doesn't really know, in a country whose social cues are vastly different. She is given the chance to get her mother out of detainment, but what will it cost her?

Whilst I enjoyed the story and empathised with Fabiola wholeheartedly when she was initially separated from her mother I found her to be somewhat irksome. I didn't like how she'd call Kasim 'broke Kasim', he may have laughed but it always made me cringe inside. Then whilst I understand her determination to do anything to save her mother she did so at the expense of all those around her. There was a particular scene with Dray in his car that had me feeling very uneasy.

I got rather weepy at some points. I'm sure if you've read this book you know what I'm talking about. My heart broke.

What was clever were the little backstories that were peppered throughout the book, of the lives of the side characters. You learnt a great deal more about how they came to be the person they are and it was done in their voices which I loved. If you didn't see the name of the story you could still tell which character it was about.

Beautiful book even if I did have a few gripes with it.



Name: American Street

Author(s): Ibi Zoboi

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages: 324

ISBN: 978-0-06-247305-9

Rating: 4/5

Have you read American Street?

What did you think?

Thank-you for reading,

Katie x

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