My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Three 4 Thursday: Three Books about Immigrants

For those who venture to settle in a new country, it is often a struggle to assimilate into a new culture.  Languages, traditions, food: it's all different.  I have experienced this myself when I moved to Japan for three years.  Luckily, I was met with open arms by the local Japanese people.  Of course, this is not always the case.  Here are three books about the immigrant experience.  I hope you read at least one of them as they all put a human face on an issue that can be polarizing in the U.S., and in Europe.

1.  The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

The Story of Hassan and his family immigrating to England, and then France, is one of searching for hope.  Hassan's mother is killed in India during a riot and the family decides it is too dangerous to remain.  They first venture to England, but find it bleak.  Then, as they cross through France, their car breaks down and they decide to stay and open an Indian restaurant.  As Hassan proves to be a gifted chef, will he embrace French haute cuisine or honor the cooking of his childhood?  Will his father accept his choice? This story highlights some of the tensions going on due to immigrants coming to Europe.  Issues of assimilation versus cultural heritage are similar to concerns in the U.S.   I enjoyed the behind the scene restaurant setting and dilemma of Hassan.

2.  The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

This book has several intertwining stories of various immigrants from Latin America and their experiences in a small Connecticut town.  As expats tend to stick together ( I know from my own experience living in other countries), all of the characters live in the same apartment building.   I like this book because it shows a whole spectrum of people.   Each character has a unique reason for moving to America. Some are fleeing violence, while others are seeking specialized treatment for an injured child.  All are acutely aware of the sacrifices they must make to leave their homeland to create a better life.   As the main characters arrive in the U.S., they are lost trying to figure out how to get the basic necessities.  Nothing is familiar.   I felt similarly lost when I first moved to Japan; I clearly remember feeling overwhelmed on my first day, trying to figure out how to find the grocery store, where to change my dollars to Yen, etc.  If you want to understand what it is like to move to a new country, this book will give you a sense of it.

3.  Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

Nayeli is a nineteen year old living in her small village in Mexico.  As she is hanging out with her friends, it dawns on her that all the men of the village are gone.  Over the past several years they have all left to go the the U.S. to find work.  Who is she supposed to build a life with if all the men are gone?  Nayeli watches The Magnificent Seven and gets a wild idea:  go north to America and recruit seven men to come home to rebuild their population.  This book speaks so well to the mixed emotions of immigrants coming from Mexico to the U.S.: The fears on both sides of the fence, and the longing to feel at home. My grandparents came from Mexico as children and it was both heartbreaking and powerful to experience a boarder crossing through the characters in this book. I look forward to reading everything the author writes in the future.
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