Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Ibi Zoboi
Illustrator: Natalie C. Sousa
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Fabiola has dreamed her whole life of living in America. She is thrilled when she and her mother are invited to live with her aunt and cousins in Detroit. But, when her mother is detained by U.S. Immigration workers, Fabiola must enter the country alone and soon discovers that achieving the American dream is more difficult than she ever imagined. As she begins her American high school experience, she meets and falls in love with a boy named Kasim. Because Kasim's close friend Drey may be involved in some illegal activities detectives approach Fabiola and ask her to spy on Drey, insinuating that if she is able to help them catch Drey doing something illegal, they will escalate her mother’s legalization process. As Fabiola struggles with understanding lines of loyalty, love, and morality, she begins to see that life is not always easy or fair.
Inspired by the 2012 police shooting of black young-adult Trayvon Martin, American Street is a raw coming-of-age story that is relevant to current political issues. This book’s intense, non-sugarcoated look at modern issues related to poverty, immigration, and racism constitutes both its strengths and its weaknesses. Riddled with major expletives and descriptions of teens participating in drug trafficking, violence, and sexual innuendos, this book is not recommended for readers who want a star-studded, squeaky-clean read with an equally light-hearted ending. That said, it is also a well-written and captivating fictional narrative of some very real issues happening in the United States today, situations that, from the author’s perspective, should be exposed in clear, and sometimes unflattering, light so that understanding, empathy, and help can increase for the many whose situations resemble Fabiola’s and her cousins.
*Severe language, moderate violence, and moderate sexual content.