Book of the Week: American Street – Ibi Zoboi

Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own history as a young Haitian immigrant to explore contemporary immigrant experience in this new teen novel. Set in Detroit, it is the story of a girl separated from her mother at the border and thrown into urban life with her American cousins.

Ultimately a family and coming of age story, American Street is also richly infused with Haitian culture and dollop of magical realism. It is a beautiful story about one patch in the crazy quilt of American stories—stories of people from all over the world and from many backgrounds.

It’s already been covered in the NYT and arrives with three starred reviews as well as raves from booksellers and authors alike.

“Filling her pages with magic, humanity, tragedy, and hope, Zoboi builds up, takes apart, and then rebuilds an unforgettable story. This book will take root in readers’ hearts.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Zoboi’s powerful debut, set in current-day Detroit (but based on the author’s experience as a Haitian immigrant in 1980s Bushwick, Brooklyn), unflinchingly tackles contemporary issues of immigration, assimilation, violence, and drug dealing…. Mixing gritty street life with the tenderness of first love, Haitian Vodou, and family bonds, the book is at once chilling, evocative, and reaffirming.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Zoboi’s stunning debut intertwines mysticism and love with grit and violence….Zoboi, who emigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, brings a nuanced portrayal of that culture to the narrative. Evocative prose, where Fabiola calls on voodoo spirits, informs and enriches her character, while standing in counterpoint to her hard-as-nails cousins….Fierce and beautiful.”
Booklist (starred review)

American Street left me absolutely breathless. Ibi Zoboi has written a story about family, about first love, about the crossroads of faith and hope. Through the lens of Zoboi’s gorgeous prose, Fabiola’s voice soars as she struggles to make sense of her new life, longs to be reunited with her mother, and finds herself faced with an impossible choice. This is YA at its very best: Aching, revealing, and so true it hurts, and hurts good.”
— Stephanie Appell, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

Brimming with culture, magic, warmth, and unabashed rawness, American Street is ultimately a blistering tale of humanity. This is Manchild in the Promised Land for a new generation, and a remarkable debut from Zoboi, who without question is an inevitable force in storytelling.”
—Jason Reynolds

“Ibi Zoboi brings us a Detroit rarely seen: full of wandering spirits, suffused with magic and mystery. At once the story of one determined girl and a family at the crossroads as well as a powerful page-turner, American Street will leave the scent of Papa Legba’s cigar in the air and its mark on your heart.”
—Laura Ruby

“Zoboi’s nascent storytelling gifts ensnare from page one. To this spellbinding voice of the next generation, I bow.”
—Rita Williams-Garcia

American Street (9780062473042) by Ibi Zoboi. $17.99 hardcover. 2/14/17 on sale.

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