Friday, October 13, 2017

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Title: American Street
Author: Ibi Zoboi
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: February 14, 2017
Pages: 336
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

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?

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Fabiola Toussaint entered the United States to begin a new life but problems arose when she arrived to New York with her mother. Fabiola's Maman told her to fly to Detriot without her and that she will meet Fabiola there. However, Fabiola later learns that her mother is detained by ICE at a facility in New Jersey and faces deportation back to Haiti. This is the first time Fabiola's mother left her alone but not by choice.

With slight worry about her mother, Fabiola is welcomed by her cousins and aunt. Culture shocks hits right away and Fabiola is learning how to fend for herself without her mom which has become extremely hard for her. She starts high school and she tries to adjust to the tough streets of Detroit. Fabiola gains a nickname of Fabulous, meets new friends and is even smitten with a guy.

Ibi Zoboi wrote a powerful novel that is gritty and expressive. Fabiola hangs onto her Haitian roots despite trying to fit in with her new American lifestyle. Zoboi weaves in iwas, Vodou spirit guides, within American Street. The novel includes instances of domestic violence, drug dealing, name calling and a lot of profanity. However, readers shouldn't shy away from tough topics depicted in the novel.

Although the American Street is hard hitting, it's a fast-paced novel with a variety of memorable characters such as Fabiola, Pri, Donna, Chantal, Imani, Dray and Kasim. Mainly in first person narrative of Fabiola, the novel includes snippets of secondary characters' voices. With immigration being a hot topic of discussion lately, American Street is a book everyone should read.


  1. I really liked this one too! I've been talking to librarians about this as a contender for the Printz this year and I've been really surprised by how many people say they had a hard time connection with Fabiola and her story. Go figure!

    1. I know some people have a hard time connecting with this novel and some people connected with it right away. I think it depends on the person's upbringing and also what experiences they have had in their life and also who they know.