In Ibi Zoboi’s debut novel, American Street, she brings to light issues about racial discrimination, immigration, family separation, and identity through the eyes of a teenager, Fabiola Toussaint. After leaving her home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola quickly faces the reality of American immigration policies when her mom is detained in New Jersey. She is then forced to fly to Detroit to meet her aunt and cousins alone, with the hope that her mom will join her soon. Fabiola is tossed into a modern American life that she battles to fit into. From struggling to get out of her cousins’ shadows, to a mentally ill aunt who seems to have given up, to a blossoming romance, Fabiola seems in over her head trying to grasp who she is and where she fits into this strange new world. Even with her new identity, she still clings to the traditional Haitian practices of Vodou. This attachment to her Haitian culture keeps her mind always on her mom, preventing her from truly enjoying her new life. As a result, she is caught at a crossroads: Fabiola has to decide how far she is willing to go to protect her family. Zoboi’s authentic writing creates an engaging and captivating story that readers can relate to in a myriad of ways.
Bridget Callaghan & Yeliz Kurt, 2019