Fabiola and her mother have been planning to leave Haiti for years, but when they finally make the trip, her mother is detained at the U.S. border. Fabiola is forced to navigate her way to Detroit to live with family she has only known over the phone. Her aunt is mysterious, often ill, disappearing into her room for days at a time. Her cousins are legendary. Known around their school as the 3Bs, they strike fear into the hearts of anyone who crosses them. Fabiola feels most at home with them, but also fails to understand the complicated world in which they live. She wants to stay in the U.S., but she also misses Haiti and her mother, about whom no one else seems to share her concern. She lives at the crossroads of Joy Road and American Street and she has reached a crossroads in her life as well. Where does she belong?
Why It's Worth Reading:
I think I've made it clear in previous posts that I love books set in the Detroit area if they are done well. (See my review of Elusion.) This is one of the best that I've read in a while. Fabiola's exploration of the city is made all the more interesting because she is seeing it through the eyes of stranger, navigating streets, restaurants, and neighborhoods familiar to me, but foreign to her. Her perspective of the city is fascinating because while she recognizes that is has many flaws, she draws direct comparison to her hometown of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, an area which has also seen some struggle and setbacks. Zoboi, through Fabiola, is able to assess the community very matter-of-factly, without melodramatic judgment or the overwhelming historic perspective (a fall from greatness, or recent rejuvenation after that fall) that is often represented. The other aspect of this novel that really stands out is the writing. There is a poetry to the language, and tons of beautiful metaphor, most particularly the intersection of American and Joy, that make it clear that this book is something special.
Title: American Street
Author: Ibi Zoboi
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Awards/Accolades: 5 starred reviews before release!
Source: Advanced Reader's Copy (Full disclosure: I received a free galley in exchange for my honest opinion.)
Do We Own a Copy?: On order