American Street - Ibi Zoboi (REVIEW)


Some books seem to take us on intense and emotional roller coaster rides with the stories they tell.  Ibi Zoboi does this with American Street, which tells the story of a young Haitian immigrant navigating her way through dealing with a family that is as foreign to her as the city in which she ends up: Detroit. She does this alone as her mother is detained by ICE.

This is a book that I had wanted to read as I have been seeking out stories that were more diverse, and being a YA novel also drew me in. I think people often overlook YA as being only for a certain age, but they often offer stories that are intense, complicated and far more dynamic than many might guess or expect. American Street is a perfect example of this. Zoboi does a beautiful job of weaving together these complex characters and the memories and experiences that exist among them. While there is pain - physical, emotional, mental... there is also family and support, romance and laughter. As we follow Fabiola, we learn more about her past, and that of her aunt and cousins in Detroit. We follow these characters on a ride that brings with it hope and hurt in a way that keeps the reader intensely engaged.

It was difficult to put down this book. It reads easily from beginning to end and I would be lying if I said it didn't make me tear up on multiple occasions. The heartbreak that just seems to leak off the page from Fabiola being separated from her mother is strong. The book also tackles a variety of issues that would be impossible to not engage readers - the violence of our inner cities, drugs, gun violence and domestic violence for example. This book addresses topics that continue to be hot topics within our society.

American Street might be labeled as a Young Adult novel, but it truly is for everyone. I definitely look forward to whatever else Zoboi might have in store for us and I will certainly keep her on my radar. It is not the sappy, teenage angst, romance novel that many might think of when they head "YA", but is instead a deep and thought provoking book that will pull on your heart strings whether you like it or not. It does so in a good way though. Trust me.

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