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?
TW: Violence, Drug Abuse, Cursing, Misognistc/Racial Slurs, some girl hate
Own Voices: Yes
But then I realize that everyone is climbing their own mountain here in America. They are tall and mighty and they live in the hearts and everyday lives of the people.
And I am not a pebble in the valley.
I am a mountain
I was extremely hesitant going into this book. Since it’s release, I’ve been both requesting and deleting American Street from my Overdrive because I’ve heard pretty mixed reviews. On Goodreads there’s people praising the book but on Booktube, a lot of people gave this a low rating.
So finally, I read Amercian Street and I was suprised to find myself enjoying it more than I thought I would.
Our main character, Fabiola aka Fab had such beautiful, authentic voice. I love how she stayed true to herself and her Haitian culture throughout the book. It was interesting seeing her how she navigates the life of American customs but also never forgetting her own Haitian traditions. It was refreshing to see a character that wasn’t “feisty, sarcastic” but who also wasn’t weak and bland. I just adored Fab and her willingness to do anything for her loved ones, especially her mother who was detained in the airport.
Then we get to Fab’s cousins aka “Three Bs,” Chantal, Pri and Donna. They bring Fab under their wing and try to make her the 4th B.
- I do wish Pri (the brawn) had better character development though. I would have loved to read more about her since she was probably the most riveting out of the three. She also likes girls!
- Chantal (the brains) is also an amazing woman. She seemed like the “mom” out of the three Bs and used logic and common sense when it comes to situations.
- Donna (the beauty) fell flat to me. It seemed like her character was mostly built by her boyfriend, Drey.
What I liked about the relationship between all of them is that it wasn’t some sort of Mean Girls situation where Fab loses herself within the group/tries to fit in. Fab still calls out on their shit and even if they do make fun of Fab’s way of life, she still holds their ground.
In addition with Fab’s mother being gone and navigating the American life, she has to deal with Donna’s abusive boyfriend, Drey, who is on thin ice with law enforcement, Fab’s aunt desiring her sister was with her rather than Fab herself and Fab developing a relationship with Drey’s bestfriend, Kasim. There’s so many plots and themes in the story but for some reason, I feel like Zoboi made it work. I loved how this was a family heavy and some mystery with only a dab of romance.
The “girl hate” didn’t really bother me as much as I thought it would because I see these situations happen, especially when I was in middle school (though Fab is in high school). I feel like there really wasn’t a whole lot of girl hate anyways.
We also get a mini chapter for all the side characters which I really enjoyed. You are able to be in their heads and discover their justifications of all the decisions these characters make. We get to read about their backgrounds and know why they hold certain beliefs. I thought this really added to the overall story.
Some people say that they didn’t like how Fab’s mother was written out of the story. I’m actually confused on what they mean because her mother plays a crucial part of the book. Literally everything Fab does is because of her mom. If Fab’s mom was written out of the story, the ending would have never happened because there would be no conflict. Fab devised plans in order to have her mom released and freeing her mom was her number one priority. I think Zoboi was trying to convey what people would do for the ones they love, even if it’s possibly betraying another love one. The grey area conflicts really sold this book for me.
American Street made me think about a lot of things such as police brutality classism, drug abuse, etc. I also have been thinking a lot of America’s immigration system due to the current political climate and how I had to debate about sanctuary cities recently. When the other was detained, it made me angry that they force to separate a mother and a daughter for no life threatening reasons. If this quote doesn’t make you think I don’t know what will.
So trying to come to America from the wrong country is a crime?
Overall, I think this one is worth the read.
What did you think about American Street?