3 Books About Being an Immigrant in America

Hello and welcome to a new post from the “Stories from the West” project which I am doing with Dixie! We will be writing 1 post each month with the same topic, to give you a glimpse of our lives as new immigrants in our respective countries. This month’s we are sharing some book recommendations about our adoptive countries and I’m sharing 3 books about immigration in The US. Happy reading and check out Dixie’s post here 🙂

I love that I have been able to read more since I moved to the US. I guess it’s one of the goods things that came out from my down time when I was still adjusting to life here – all the free time I had made me manage to get back to my reading habit, something that I was not able to do when I was still living in Jakarta.

If you have been friends with me on Goodreads, you would know that most of the books on my shelf are fiction, mostly young adults or romantic comedy. Yes, those are my favorite genre. But, I have developed an interest towards immigration stories here in the US, because, well, I am an immigrant myself, and immigration is an issue that is widely discussed here. So, for this post, I am going to share 3 books about immigration that I found deeply moving and I really enjoyed to read. Happy reading! 🙂

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas

This book is a memoir written by the author himself, a renowned journalist who happens to be undocumented. The book tells you about his journey – how he was sent to the US from the Philippines to live with his grandparents, with fake papers. Through great storytelling he told us how he first found out that he is undocumented, how he is fighting for his status, and the life that he has built in the US. I felt so moved by this book and I can only imagine the things that he went through. As you probably know, immigration is a big issue here and sometimes we are only exposed to one side of the story. This book gives you another one, and it’s a good read if you are interested in the issue.

We Are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults by Susan Kuklin

This book is a collection of short stories from undocumented young adults living in America, written by an author and photographer. The stories are so heart-warming and it gives more perspective than the news about immigration in popular media. Well, I guess I have to warn you as well that this book is also heartbreaking. Through this book we are taken to peek the lives of these young adults that were brought / came to the US when they were still kids. Most of them don’t know life besides the one they have lived in the US so it is really heartbreaking to read about their stories… but at the same time these stories taught me a lot about hope and perseverance because despite everything, these young adults are striving and they are hopeful.

American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures by America Ferrera

Do you remember America Ferrera? Well I remember her from the TV series Ugly Betty that I watched several years back. I haven’t heard from her in a while until I found this book. It turns out that she’s a good storyteller too! She shares her story about coming from a Honduran family and compiles great stories from other notable public figures like Jeremy Lin, Randall Park and Kal Penn. The book does a great job in capturing stories of Americans with a diverse background and it makes me rethink the meaning of being an American in today’s society. For a long time, the image of being American to me is limited to the ones portrayed in Hollywood movies I saw growing up. Yes, those are true, but through this book, and my own experience living here, I learned that being American is such a wide spectrum. It is a heartwarming book and enjoyable book, and I recommend it if you want to get a better understanding of what it means to be an American in today’s diverse society.

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A review of The Selection Series from a 27 y.o

Last week I started reading The Selection Series by Kiera Cass… and managed to finished all three books in three days!

Image from Google.com
Image from Google.com

The book is another teen story with dystopian setting which revolves around the life of America Singer – the heroine of the book. She lives in Illea, a country where castes do exist and the prince (named Maxton) finds her wife from an American Idol-like show called The Selection. Through The Selection, the selected girls of Illea got to meet the prince, stay in the castle and “compete” with other girls to become the one a.k.a prince’s wife a.k.a future queen of Illea.

Now the story gets more exciting because.. well, America did not want to become part of The Selection at first, she was in love with somebody else. Then there’s the rebels. Then there’s the mean girls. Sounds like any other teen books? Kind of…

I am fully aware that this is, a teen novel. I am… Not in my teenage years anymore. I should have gotten over romantic love stories. I should have known better than to be swayed by dialogues between two madly in love teenagers.. But, Surprisingly enough, what makes it unputdownable to me is the dialogue between America and Maxton! They were so cheesy-ly (is there such a word?) romantic and forgive me for being a total hopeless romantic but the words really got my attention.

All in all, this book is a really a fun and light read – no need to think much while reading it (the more you think about it, you start to lose all the fun), just embrace the hopeless romantic in you! :p

Crazy Rich Asians

This book – written by Kevin Kwan, was recommended to me by my friend, Rio and it has been sitting in my e-book reader for months before I finally started to read it. When I finally started to read it, I was not too interested on it – I spent some time only reading few pages daily. But as I turned more pages, I got more and more hooked to this book.

Image from google.com

Like the title, it tells the story about “Crazy Rich Asians” – Chinese people with generations of wealth currently living outside mainland China. The story revolves around a young Chinese couple who lives in New York, Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young and their travel to Nicholas’ hometown in Singapore to attend Nicholas’ best friend’s wedding.

Rachel – coming from a middle class immigrant family, did not realise that the Youngs are very rich and extravagant. Nicholas’ cousins, extended family and relatives are the the kind of people you would see in high – end lifestyle magazines. Nicholas’ family house looks like a castle filled with luxury items which Rachel has never seen before. The private jets, luxury cars, social evenings and fancy dinners make Rachel feel overwhelmed. Plus, she thinks that Nicholas did not prepare her for anything of those at all, thus makes her shocked and confused.

Nicholas – educated and worked in the West, thinks that all those wealth are his family’s, therefore not important to him. He simply thought the trip would be just an ordinary trip with the woman that he loves. What he missed to prepare is how to handle the way his family – especially his mum, reacts to him bringing home a girlfriend.

How do you think his family reacts?
What happens to Rachel & Nicholas’ relationship during their trip to Singapore?

Read the book to find out… 😉
It is indeed very entertaining, witty, and enjoyable to read!