I’ve talked about this book a few times on the blog but I’m so glad I now get the chance to review it, after first hearing about this two years ago! The authors have put a lot of work into these stories and now the release date is so close! Read on for my thoughts and how you can get your hands on the book, coming out next month:
America Deconstructed by Chaithanya Sohan and Shaima Adin
Genre: Non-fiction | Short Stories
Release date: February 12th, 2019
Naseer was nine years old when he escaped Taliban and fled Afghanistan. His story, “There are some people who are coming to take me away”, chronicles the resilience of a nine year old boy as he traveled from Afghanistan to America in his quest for the American dream.
“I saw a ripe mango I’d like to pluck” showcases the love story of Chidibere and Ifeyinwa and their struggles with language, culture and being African in America.
In the story “Kosovo, really…cool”, Lisian takes us through his journey to America and often being asked his identity in spite of being white.
In the story, “I am exotic, mocha, P-diddy”, Parag describes his journey from a young sixth grader who hid his attraction to boys in conservative India to embracing his sexuality in America.
America Deconstructed follows the journeys of sixteen immigrants as they maneuver cultural differences, accents and uncomfortable situations while feeling a sense of belonging in America.
This is quite an eclectic mix of stories – from where these immigrants are traveling from, to where in the States they end up, and how they’v enjoyed life in a new country. While each story generally focuses on each person’s initial reactions to America, some come as piecemeal with short, interesting facts about the differences that struck them, and others follow more of a chronological order, from when they left their home country to becoming accustomed to the US.
At times the structure felt a bit awkward but I think that’s because of the way the stories were collected. I believe these stories were gathered through interviews, though the questions aren’t included in the book, so at times there’s some repetition or it jumps a little, though it helps in that there are recognizable themes shared across the stories. With some individuals, they focused on one particular aspect or the feeling of the entire journey, and with that focus in mind it was easier to follow along as we weren’t jumping back and forth so often.
This was the case with my favourite story of the collection, “There are some people coming to take me away”, which, along with following a chronological order that made it easier to read, was also a very powerful and compelling story of how this person’s family fought against suppression. The importance of family is a strong theme throughout the collection, whether it’s the family they’ve left behind or the struggles of how to raise a family in a new place and culture and what of their “old” way of life to pass on.
America Deconstructed is a really enjoyable read filled with quite personal and honest stories, and with so many neat insights of how these immigrants have experienced a new culture. Certainly a timely book, but also one that offers a new way to look at the world.
About the Authors: Shaima Adin and Chaithanya Sohan met as new immigrants at San Jose State University while receiving their Electrical Engineering degree. America Deconstructed was born during those moments when they bonded through their mutual immigrant goof ups and experiences.
Shaima Adin enjoys reading, traveling with her husband and daughter, and cooking during her free time.
Chaithanya Sohan enjoys reading, writing and traveling with her husband, daughter and German Shepherd puppy, which is chronicled in her blog www.nomadicsuc.wordpress.com
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Images, blurbs, and bios provided by authors