Reviews and Reception

Ibi Zoboi’s American Street was originally published February 14, 2017. Since then, it has been nominated for many awards and was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Specifically, American Street was nominated for New York Times Notable Book, Publishers Weekly Flying Start, Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice of 2017, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Kirkus Best Book of the Year, and BookPage Best YA Book of the Year. Although American Street is a recently published novel, it has been successful in receiving high praise. Many readers and reviewers alike enjoy the character development of the story’s protagonist, Fabiola, and her realistic journey as a young immigrant. Plenty of reviewers believe it is important for young adults to read this novel, as the daring and heroic female characters promote a confident role model for today’s youth to look up to. Readers also enjoy the realness of emotions within the story and how the topics within the book, such as immigrant detainment, relate to current events seen today.

Washington Post:


Heroines, real and fictional, abound in children’s and teen books these days. The girls and women in these books are bold, adventurous and daring. They stand out, and their stories offer much-needed inspiration to young people navigating difficult and confusing times. Plus, these books are simply great reading — for boys and girls alike.” ― Review by Karen MacPherson

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School Library Journal:


“Wherever you think that part of the story is going, you’re wrong. The many twists and turns that part of the plot takes blew my mind. This powerful and well-written story of an immigrant girl’s new life in the United States is absorbing and unpredictable. I hope this finds its way to bookshelves in all public and school libraries.” ― Review by Amanda MacGregor

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“A breathtaking story about contemporary America that will serve as a mirror to some and a window for others, and it will stay with anyone who reads it. A must-purchase for YA collections.” ― Review by Beth McIntyre

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Kirkus Review:


“ Fabiola’s perceptive, sensitive narration gives readers a keen, well-executed look into how the American dream can be a nightmare for so many. Filling her pages with magic, humanity, tragedy, and hope, Zoboi builds up, takes apart, and then rebuilds an unforgettable story. This book will take root in readers’ hearts.” ― Review by Kirkus Review

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National Book Foundation:


A loving, lyrical, and poignant epic about immigrating to the United States, American Street chronicles Fabiola Toussaint’s struggle to navigate her new life in Detroit. On the one hand, it is a page-turning story of survival and tenacity up against the pressures of crime and uncertainty, and on the other, it is a fresh, nuanced paean to the rich, magical reality undergirding every intersection of our country. American Street reminds us that all of America lives and breathes with the spirits and cultures of the people who’ve emigrated here from around the world.” ― Review by National Book Award For Young People’s Literature, 2017 Judge

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Publishers Weekly:


Zoboi’s powerful debut, set in current-day Detroit (but based on the author’s experience as a Haitian immigrant in 1980s Bushwick, Brooklyn), unflinchingly tackles contemporary issues of immigration, assimilation, violence, and drug dealing.”
— Review by Publishers Weekly 

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Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:


“Characterization throughout is rewardingly rich, with brief viewpoints from the rest of the cast adding dimension to their portrayal, and everybody making the choices they feel they must for those close to them. The book adds more layers with the ironic metaphor of the family house’s location at the corner of American and Joy Street, the presence and inspiration of Fabiola’s beloved voudou spirits, and Detroit’s complicated history of motor-trade, and crime bust and boom.  At its heart this remains firmly YA, though, with Outsiders-style appeals to loyalty and family that will reach young readers regardless of their background.”
— Review by Deborah Stevenson 

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Booklist Online:


Zoboi’s stunning debut intertwines mysticism and love with grit and violence to tell the story of Fabiola Toussaint, a Haitian teen adjusting to her new life in Detroit. Fabiola’s dream of a better life with her aunt and cousins in America snags when her mother is detained at the U.S. border. Forced to continue alone, she must also confront the reality that her new neighborhood is every bit as dangerous as the one she left behind in Port-au-Prince. Drugs, gangs, and violence pervade the status quo, but thanks to her cousins’ tough reputations, Fabiola can find her footing. Zoboi, who emigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, brings a nuanced portrayal of that culture to the narrative. Evocative prose, where Fabiola calls on voodoo spirits, informs and enriches her character, while standing in counterpoint to her hard-as-nails cousins. Zoboi pulls no punches when describing the dangerous realities of the girls’ lives, but tender moments are carefully tucked into the plot as well. This story is many things. It is a struggle for survival. It is the uncovering of one’s bravest self. And, most significant, it is the coming together of a family. One or two scenarios strain credibility, but the characters’ complexities ultimately smooth over any bumps. Fierce and beautiful.”
— Review by Julia Smith

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Ibi Zoboi’s debut novel is a refreshing take on a common literary preoccupation, the American dream: It not only explores the cost of said dream, but questions its ultimate value to those who chase it. American Street takes the shape of a coming-of-age story following Fabiola Toussaint, who leaves Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with her mother to immigrate to the US. But only Fabiola winds up making it to their final destination; her mom is detained, leaving Fabiola (who was born in the States) to establish a new life in Detroit. There, she lives with her aunt and three cousins — a tight, rough-and-tumble trio known as ‘the Three Bees.’”
— Review by Genevieve Koski

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American Street’s Homepage

Shannon Oteri, Noah Aungst, Connor Keefe ’19

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