28 March 2017

American Street by Ibo Zoboi


Publication: February 14, 2017 
# of Pages: 336
Source: Library Copy 


The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?


Whoah, I'm just going to go ahead and say that this was one hell of a book. I mean really. I don't know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn't this and I mean that in a good way. Ibo Zoboi took a very interesting concept of immigration and turned it into a cultural story that is engaging for readers. Just so you know ahead of time, American Street is not for the faint of heart. Zoboi doesn't write to make you feel comfortable, she writes to make you understand/see a sense of someone's reality. I know that some people had issues with this book specifically pertaining to the abuse and while I don't agree with it, I understand why it was an added element to the story. 

I think what stood out the most to me about this book was definitely the fact that it had an urban fiction vibe to it. I have read urban fiction before (I just started last year) and the same feelings and themes that I see in those books, I definitely saw in this one. Nevertheless, Zoboi was capable of bringing down the level of intensity to make sure that the book was still appropriate for a young adult audience. I would say that this book is definitely for an older young adult audience than younger. It has explicit content in the form of language and various situations. 

The characters in this book were amazing. I really resonated with Fabiola and her desire to fit into the cultural inner workings of Detroit without forgetting her Haitian background. It's great that Zoboi decided to combine the two together and make them intertwine to create an even more dynamic story. The only think I can say about the characters is that I wanted to know more and that we only get a glimpse of what their lives were like prior to meeting and engaging with Fabiola. Part of me wishes it was more than that. These characters seemed like they had so much to offer and I didn't want it to stop with a few pages. 

I have only one criticism in reference to this book and it deals with the fact that I think Zoboi attempted to cover too many topics at once. She had her hands in immigration, police brutality/#blacklivesmatter, abuse, drugs, etc. It was a lot to handle in one book and to be honest it does make for a book that is more based in trying to paint a picture of reality then a pretty story with a happy ending. I can honestly say that this story isn't for everyone and I definitely wouldn't recommend it to everyone. If you are ok with a writer making you uncomfortable and challenging you and giving you a picture of what life may be like growing up in some areas of Detroit then I would go for it. If you want a perfect, happy ending and something that is stereotypical and found in YA novels then this one isn't for you. With that being said, I really enjoyed it and I think that Zoboi has a gift for writing and I can't wait to see what she will come up with next. 


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