“Yes, Teens still read” with Tiya


Welcome to our first episode! We’ll be talking about three books and their impact on one of today’s important issues in America: the immigration process and how it affects the people who need to come here. Often times it’s very too overwhelming to learn about this topic so I recommend these books to give insight no what it’s like to live in a household with immigrants and the turmoils of a refugee that can help you see their perspective.

Book #1

The Poet X- Elizabeth Acevedo 

Xiomara is a teenage woman who feels objectified by everyone around her because of her growing, curvy body. She also feels tied down by her mother who wants her to be connected to God and be a devoted Catholic. She is also starting to feel disconnected to her twin brother who her family treats like he could do no wrong. Her only lifeline for her is her poetry. When she’s invited to her school’s slam poetry club, she knows her heavily religious mother would never let it happen but Xiomara is determined to make it there. She finally feels free with the club and a  new crush on her biology partner Aman whom she feels sees her for who she truly is.  This book helps the reader learn about the struggles some children have with their immigrant parents because of their different experiences. It also talks about how some people won’t always be able to make it with you over the border. Xiomara’s lives in a community and neighborhood filled with immigrants and Aman later talking about his mother not coming with him and his father when they immigrated to America. He speaks about his life in Trinidad for a bit before explaining, quote: “ I’ve learned not to be angry, sometimes the best way to love someone is to let them go.” This speaks on how not just him but many children sometimes have to let their parents go because they have no choice.

Book #2

Americanized- Sara Saedi

This memoir follows the author, Sara, in her hilarious journey through the turmoil of an average teenager. At 13 years old Sara finds out that her family, including her parents and sister, immigrated to the United States illegally from Iran. Her memoir speaks on her perspective of being an undocumented immigrant as a child. She also includes passages that teach about her family and county’s history and why her family fled, while also showing she was also a regular teenager with problems any teen would have: getting rid of acne, trying to get a boyfriend/ girlfriend, finding a job, etc. So much of this book helps you learn the technical terms and process of being undocumented and trying to get a green card. Sara talks about her journey with her family to get her green card and to then become an American citizen. The journey is about her and her family getting political asylum from Iran during a hard time, and having to leave without knowing if they would ever come back to their childhood places. In the United States, the family was a lower social class than they were in Iran. When the family had to bang the doors of an immigration office during their process. Sara points out that this was quote “before 911” and people would now feel threatened to see a family of middle eastern banging on a door of a government building but back then they were less hostile and helped them out. 

Book #3

Refugee Boy- Benjamin Zephaniah

Alem is a 14-year-old boy whose Mom is Eritrean and Father is Ethiopian. The plot takes place around the time of the Ethiopian-Eritrean war. As a result, Alem’s family is harassed because Alem is both Eritrean and Ethiopian and his parents are married. Alem’s father sends him to London, England while his parents stay back in East Africa trying to fight against the war. Alem now has to try to seek asylum while dealing with problems and unable to reach his parents. This book gives a great insight into a refugee who is struggling to find his way and solves problems on his own. Alem is experiencing the torture and horror lots of immigrants and refugees have gone through. He is separated from his parents and taken to a country where he speaks little of the language and doesn’t know whether he would see his parents ever again. He’s already been beaten by Ethiopians for being half Eritrean and been beaten by Eritreans for being Half Ethiopian. Although it should be pointed out that this is historical fiction and some of the histories in the book are incorrect or embellished, I still recommend reading this book as it shows the experience many refugees go through and how it affects them. If you read this book though, and want to read more about the history of the countries war and maybe even more about Ethiopia or Eritrea, the internet is at your mercy and the library will always love you, I highly recommend going through those to places!