Read Woke @ Goodnow

Teens’ Book Recommendations:

Immigrant and Refugee Voices


Fiction

American Street – Ibi Zoboi

“Fabiola Toussaint and her mother were supposed to start their lives over in America. But after they arrived from Haiti, her mother was detained, and Fabiola had to continue the journey to Detroit by herself. Soon, Fabiola is living at the intersection of American Street and Joy Road, where the weather is cold, the people are colder, and she’s only allowed to speak English”

Behind the Mountains – Edwidge Danticat

“When Celiane’s teacher gives her a blank notebook, Celiane uses it to record the thoughts she can’t share with anyone else. She writes about her life in the Haitian village of Beau Jour, about how her simple life becomes complicated after Haiti gets too dangerous, and about how moving to Brooklyn is a shocking transition for the whole family.”

Flowers in the Sky – Lynn Joseph

‘Nina never wanted to leave the Dominican Republic. But when her mother sends her to Nueva York to have a better life, Nina has a tough time transitioning from her island paradise to the concrete world of Washington Heights.’

The Go-Between – Veronica Chambers

‘Cammi was used to being one of the rich kids of Mexico City. Her mother was a telenovela star, and her father was famous for his voiceover talent. Because of her parents, Cammi was famous (or at least Instagram-famous), and she lived a life of privilege. But when her mother gets a role in an American sitcom, the family moves to LA, and their lives suddenly become a lot less glamorous.”

The Good Braider: a Novel – Terry Farish

“This powerful novel in verse tells the story of a girl named Viola, over four long years of her life. Her journey takes her from the horrors of war in Sudan, to years of living as a refugee in Egypt, and finally to the United States. In Portland, Maine, there are no landmines, and although Viola no longer hears the sound of soldiers’ footsteps, her old memories and fears are still locked inside her mind.”

We Are Not From Here – Jenny Torres Sanchez

Pulga has his dreams. Chico has his grief. Pequeña has her pride. And these three teens have one another. But none of them have illusions about the town they’ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home. Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the perilous train system that might deliver them to a better life–if they are lucky enough to survive the journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and desperation drumming through their hearts, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know there is no turning back, despite the unknown that awaits them. And the darkness that seems to follow wherever they go.”

You Bring the Distant Near – Mitali Perkins

“Sonia and Tara are growing up in a traditional Indian family. But when they move to New York City, it’s hard to balance the traditional things their parents want with their new American lifestyle. This story spans several generations, as the girls grow up, grow apart from their family, and then start families of their own.”

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter – Erika L. Sanchez

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.”

The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon

Two teens–Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers, and Natasha, whose family is here illegally from Jamaica–cross paths in New York City on an eventful day in their lives–Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum, Natasha is meeting with a lawyer to try and prevent her family’s deportation to Jamaica–and fall in love”

The Border – Steve Schafer

One moment changed their lives forever. A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them. Crack. Crack. Crack. Not fireworks—gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them. Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families’ murders have put out a reward for the teens’ capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape”

The Dangerous Art of Blending In – Angelo Surmelis

“Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend Henry has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer”

 

La Linea – Ann Jarmillo

“When fifteen-year-old Miguel’s time finally comes to leave his poor Mexican village, cross the border illegally, and join his parents in California, his younger sister’s determination to join him soon imperils them both.”

Love, Hate, and Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

“Maya Aziz, seventeen, is caught between her India-born parent’s world of college and marrying a suitable Muslim boy and her dream world of film school and dating her classmate, Phil, when a terrorist attack changes her life forever.”

The Radius of Us – Marie Marquardt

“Ninety seconds can change a life — not just daily routine, but who you are as a person. Gretchen Asher knows this, because that’s how long a stranger held her body to the ground. When a car sped toward them and Gretchen’s attacker told her to run, she recognized a surprising terror in his eyes. And now she doesn’t even recognize herself.
Ninety seconds can change a life — not just the place you live, but the person others think you are. Phoenix Flores Flores knows this, because months after setting off toward the U.S. / Mexico border in search of safety for his brother, he finally walked out of detention. But Phoenix didn’t just trade a perilous barrio in El Salvador for a leafy suburb in Atlanta. He became that person — the one his new neighbors crossed the street to avoid. Ninety seconds can change a life — so how will the ninety seconds of Gretchen and Phoenix’s first encounter change theirs?”

Something in Between – Melissa de la Cruz

“jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. She’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud, and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship to the school of her dreams. And then everything shatters. Her parents are forced to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all, and the very real threat of deportation. As she’s trying to make sense of who she is in this new reality, her world is turned upside down again by Royce Blakely. He’s funny, caring, and spontaneous – basically everything she’s been looking for at the worst possible time, and now he’s something else she may lose.”

When You Ask Me Where I’m Going – Jasmin Kaur

“The six sections of the book explore what it means to be a young woman living in a world that doesn’t always hear her and tell the story of Kiran as she flees a history of trauma and raises her daughter, Sahaara, while living undocumented in North America. Delving into current cultural conversations including sexual assault, mental health, feminism, and immigration, this narrative of resilience, healing, empowerment, and love will galvanize readers to fight for what is right in their world.”

Graphic Novel

Illegal – Eoin Colfer


“Ebo is alone. His brother, Kwame, has disappeared, and Ebo knows it can only be to attempt the hazardous journey to Europe, and a better life, the same journey their sister set out on months ago. But Ebo refuses to be left behind in Ghana. He sets out after Kwame and joins him on the quest to reach Europe. Ebo’s epic journey takes him across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his family”

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees – Don Brown

“Starting in 2011, refugees flood out of war-torn Syria in Exodus-like proportions. The surprising flood of victims overwhelms neighboring countries, and chaos follows. Resentment in host nations heightens as disruption and the cost of aid grows. By 2017, many want to turn their backs on the victims. The refugees are the unwanted. Don Brown depicts moments of both heartbreaking horror and hope in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. Shining a light on the stories of the survivors, The Unwanted is a testament to the courage and resilience of the refugees and a call to action for all those who read.”

The American Dream? A Journey on Route 66 Discovering Dinosaur Statues, Muffler Men, and the Perfect Breakfast Burrito – Shin Yin Khor 

As a child growing up in Malaysia, Shing Yin Khor had two very different ideas of what America meant. The first looked a lot like Hollywood, full of beautiful people, sunlight, and freeways. The second looked more like The Grapes of Wrath–a nightmare landscape filled with impoverished people, broken-down cars, barren landscapes, and broken dreams. This book chronicles Shing’s solo journey (small adventure-dog included) along the iconic Route 66, beginning in Santa Monica and ending up Chicago. What begins as a road trip ends up as something more like a pilgrimage in search of an American landscape that seems forever shifting and forever out of place.

The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui

“This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.”

Non-Fiction

Someone Like Me: How One Undocumented Girl Fought for Her American Dream – Julissa Arce

“Born in the picturesque town of Taxco, Mexico, Julissa Arce was left behind for months at a time with her two sisters, a nanny, and her grandma while her parents worked tirelessly in America in hopes of building a home and providing a better life for their children. That is, until her parents brought Julissa to Texas to live with them. From then on, Julissa secretly lived as an undocumented immigrant, went on to become a scholarship winner and an honors college graduate, and climbed the ladder to become a vice president at Goldman Sachs.”

The Distance Between Us – Reyna Grande

“Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in this “compelling . . . unvarnished, resonant” ( BookPage) story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries. As her parents make the dangerous trek across the Mexican border to “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side) in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced into the already overburdened household of their stern grandmother. When their mother at last returns, Reyna prepares for her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father.”