American Street by Ibi Zoboi (Review)


american-streetTitle: American Street

Author: Ibi Zoboi

RATING: ★★★★☆

Buy now at Book Depository

Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.

Une belle vie. A good life. That’s what Fabiola Toussaint thought she would find on the corner of American Street and Joy Road. But as they enter the United States from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her new surroundings and her American cousins on her own. As she begins to find her footing, Fabiola is presented with a dangerous proposition and faced with an impossible choice.

American Street is a poignant, character-driven novel. Fabiola’s fight for her mother is central to the novel. My favourite part was the family dynamics. It’s clear from the start that Fab has an undying devotion to her mother, but we also get to see Fab’s blossoming relationship with her Aunt and her cousins that she’s only ever spoken to on the phone. This was my favourite aspect of American Street.

As Fab settled into her new life at Detroit, she finds it’s not much different than Haiti – through all of this she holds onto her cultural roots, remains who she is, and holds tight to her Vodou faith. Her first and foremost task is to get her mother back, and because of this she makes some difficult decisions and relies on the Iwa, specifically Papa Legba, to guide her.

American Street tackles a lot of issues, and I think it does it well. Whilst getting her mother out of detainment was the focal point of the book, there are lots of other themes and issues that will most likely satisfy a lot of different types readers. There’s even a bit of romance in there.

Overall, this is definitely a book I’d recommend for contemporary fans looking for a gritty, honest and powerful story. It’s a strong debut, #ownvoices, and rich in culture and tradition. American Street is unquestionably a book you should check out.

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