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Publisher's Summary

A National Book Award Finalist with five starred reviews!

A New York Times Notable Book * Publishers Weekly Flying Start * Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year * ALA Booklist Editors' Choice of 2017 (Top of the List winner) * School Library Journal Best Book of the Year * Kirkus Best Book of the Year * BookPage Best YA Book of the Year

American Street is an evocative and powerful coming-of-age story perfect for fans of Everything, Everything; Bone Gap; and All American Boys.

In this stunning debut novel, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

©2017 Ibi Zoboi (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Robin Miles glides silkily through Haitian Creole, Detroit street talk, and standard American English, infusing the dialogue with authentic-sounding accents and age-appropriate sass and bravado.... Miles taps into each character's unique struggle to balance survival with tough choices, infusing her near-flawless performance with nuanced drama. Listeners will long remember Fabiola's transformative journey." ( AudioFile)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A lot to unpack

What made the experience of listening to American Street the most enjoyable?

American Street is a lot to unpack. There were so many topics tackled in this book, it felt like a lot to wrap my head around, but if any book could juggle it, this one did it well enough where I wasn't extremely overwhelmed.

Fabiola, the main character, is forced to deal with a ton of self discovery and issues when her mother is detained by immigration. She's forced to live with her relatives who while she knows them, there are many cultural differences between them. While Fabiola was born in the US, she was raised in Haiti. All her cousins are American raised, and living in a small urban area in Detroit, a lot of culture clashed between them( btw there was alot of background inclusion, Black Muslim characters, queer Black characters, traditional Vodou within the text without being demonized).

I really felt for Fabiola. She spent a lot of the book knowing how she would help her mother become a citizen when approached by law enforcement to rat out a drug dealer. The conflict that came with finding out who the "real" dealer was, was so heart breaking and I wasn't sure she'd ever reunite with her mother.

What I liked about this story was how Haitian people meshed with African-American folk and how Blackness wasn't a monolith. A lot of people are confused by Haiti, and as an fellow Afro-Latinx person, I dont feel like there are enough contemporary books with Haitian main characters about young people, especially living in the US.

Immigration is often told from a brown perspective, often Central/South America folk who don't identify as black. This story reminds us that immigration doesn't have a specific face, the journey to a better life is a race-less desire.

For lack of better way to describe Fabiola, her foreign-ness brought that out more ways than if she had been socialized and raised in the US. It shared AAVE with the world that I'm almost not comfortable the world seeing, as a Black-Latinx, I'm often judged for using it, but the world loves it as long as Black folk aren't the face of it. While it's culturally specific, it opens a door a lot of non-Black people refuse to go through or learn about.

Fabiola experienced love, friendship, betrayal, fear, and sacrifice, and all that was in addition to the problems she had to face figuring out how she'd find a way to help her mother. I'm trying to be as spoiler free as possible, but I almost gave it a four because something really tragic happened and I couldn't help feeling resentful since it's so rarely celebrated in mainstream ya where black young couples(especially inter-cultural ones) are a focal point. And that slap in the face, especially since it ended in tragedy had me in my feelings. It was like Fabiola couldn't have anyone without losing them, whether temporary or permanently.

It requires a trigger warning to be honest. With so many black kids dying in the media, I wish there'd just been something that prepared me for it, because now I'm too sad to type XD

It's mostly told from Fabiola's POV, but there are occasions where the POV delves into other minor characters, made more obvious since I was listening to the audiobook. I think there are great things about this book, and while the things I didn't connect to were minor, I look forward to more Afro-Latinx representation in YA because there's so few of it, especially dark skinned heroines.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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I have a new favorite author

I purchased the book originally and then I purchase the audio because I wanted to read here and feel this story. What an amazing story it is! FINALLY a story that veers into the voodoo topic that isn't the typical Hollywood cliche. Much love from New Orleans!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful and full of heart

This author is able to do one of those rare things; spell bind you with magic and superstition but every remark hits at a truth. Sometimes the reality of American society is hopeless, other times the raw love and insecurities these characters embody makes your heart swell. The narrators use of different accents and intonations brings this book to life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great listen

I enjoyed this book more than I expected to. I particularly enjoyed the "young love" elements of the story. However, I found it strange that the protagonist was unfamiliar with popular aspects of American culture, such as Thanksgiving dinner. In terms of performance, Robin Miles is a great narrator; it was absolutely amazing the way she brought each character to life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story!

This story grabbed me from the start and I couldn't wait until all was told. It was great to hear the perspective for all characters even the house. Sad to hear of Q destiny don't want to say to much on that. I could picture all the locations since I have spent many summers in the Detroit area.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A immigrant tragedy

This is a very good audiobook. Robin Miles, who I was not fond of when she narrated Binti, was excellent here. Her various accents, which felt fake in Binti, felt authentic here in part because she not only doing Haitian, but also Detroit street. The range of voices was what made the narration.

American Street is named after the street where the house that Fabiola come to live, the one where she was born. It is right on the corner of Joy and American streets, which is the reason that the house was purchased by new immigrants to the US. When her mother is detained by ICE as they go through customs in New York City (Fabiola’s mother overstayed her visa on the previous trip so that Fabiola would be born in the US), Fabiola is left to go on to Detroit and meet cousins and an aunt that she has talked to, but not met.

Fabiola’s life in Haiti, with her good English schools and her hard work, has not truly prepared her for Detroit. She is also not prepared for the realities of street life without the guidance of her mother.

American Street has significant thread of magical realism. I started American Street not long after I finished Laurus, about a 15th century doctor and holy man. Both used magical realism to communicate the belief in religious faith in remarkably similar ways. Both Laurus and Fabiola were true believers, in Christianity for Laurus and Voodoo for Fabiola. But I cannot describe the presentation in any other way than magical realism, which I have only really encountered in Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and Song Yet Sung by James McBride.

I knew nothing about Voodoo before this book, but I did not need any background to understand the story. Fabiola, as she attempts to understand this foreign world, makes sense of the world around her through the ‘social imaginary’ (as Charles Taylor calls it) of the Haitian/Voodoo world. The Voodoo is real, in a very similar way to the way that Christianity is real in Laurus. But the difference between Christianity and Voodoo (I think) what is asked for and revealed is not always what is desired here.

Ultimately this is a tragedy. A tragedy that you understand much more of as different perspectives are shared. But an understood tragedy is still tragic. This is well worth reading. Especially for the current reality of separated immigrant families and the tragic ways that people make decisions when pressed to their limits.

This is a good reminder of why fiction is so important and why I keep needing to force myself to read it, even when I am sometimes reluctant to break away from the ‘important books’.

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Great voice acting.

The story was good, but the voice acting was outstanding. The narrator's ability to do accents really made the story come alive.

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American Street: Great story

American Street was beautifully and majestically written. I was hooked from the first chapter, attached to every character and desiring to read the next word! The 4 Bs, the love, the struggle, the bravery and the magic of this story is mesmerizing. I hope Zoboi writes another book and this is big screen material.

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interesting plot twists

I wasn't expecting such interesting plot twists. The narration however left much to be desired. The stilted speech of the Americans was annoying and phony.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful