Friday, August 3, 2018

Book Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Title: American Street
Author: Ibi Zoboi
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 336
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The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

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?

A couple of weeks ago my boyfriend and I got to hear Ibi Zoboi talk at Epic Reads Day.  I had heard of her book, but I had not yet picked it up.  When I got a copy in my goodie bag I knew I just had to read it!

There was a lot going on in this book.  I did like American Street, but a lot of stuff that happened made me question what was going on.  It was a really good debut, but it was just that - a debut.  One of the things I really liked-and she talked about it in her panel-was the little tidbit of supernatural that she added to this story.  While it wasn't a huge part it was just enough to add a little salt and pepper to the story line.

There are some things in this book I didn't like. For starters, I didn't really care for the love interest.  At first he seems to come off as a player.  I have had a few guys even use similar dialog to what he says and it kind of rubbed me the wrong way.  As the storyline goes on he does seem to get better though, and I can see that he truly does care for the main character.

Another aspect of this book that I don't like is how the relationships are handled.  One one end you have what seems like the normalization of an abusive relationship, and then you have girls being downright nasty to each other.  Everything is fighting.  They even so much as look at another character and they get into a fight.  I'm not really sure how I feel about this, but I know for sure that I hated the abusive relationship because I've been in similar shoes and It was not fun.

And also while on the topic of girls, these girls have some outrageous expectations of each other.  The main character, Fabiola, is expected to have her hair done and thick makeup just to even be able to roll with her cousin and her boyfriend.  I do like that Fabiola's boyfriend doesn't expect her to be like that and prefers her as natural as possible.  I just didn't care for the fact that the girls were expected to look a certain way to even hang out with other people.

That being said, I still did really like American Street, but it wasn't really one of my favorites.  I definitely will give Ibi another chance as I get that this was just her debut novel.  I definitely don’t want to deter anyone from reading this book.  Just because it wasn't for me does not mean that it isn't for you.