Sharp, provocative, timely reading.

An Austin-based journalist and immigrant activist interweaves narratives of two refugees with a history of modern American refugee resettlement policies.

World War II transformed the United States into a global leader in refugee resettlement. However, as former Catapult columnist Goudeau shows in her moving debut, the American dream has since become out of reach—both within and without U.S. borders—to immigrant asylum-seekers. Drawing on extensive interviews with two refugees she helped to resettle as well as historical research, the author draws attention to a resettlement problem that has reached crisis proportions. She centers the narrative on two women: Mu Naw, a member of a persecuted minority in Myanmar, and Hasna, a refugee from the Syrian civil war. Both were granted a chance to resettle in the U.S. in the first and second decades, respectively, of the 21st century, a time when the number of refugees globally had reached all-time highs but the number of refugees offered resettlement in the U.S. had reached historic lows. Yet because Mu Naw was Christian and Hasna was Muslim, the two had distinctly different experiences. Mu Naw faced the inevitable discrimination that came with immigrant status. Nevertheless, many white Americans offered the social and financial support that allowed her and her family to leave poverty behind and become middle class within the span of a decade. Hasna, who arrived in the U.S. just a few months before the election of Donald Trump in 2016, found herself facing a far more hostile atmosphere and uncertain future. Most of the people who helped her and her family were Syrian American. When American travel bans against Muslims, including Syrian refugees, went into effect in 2017, her hopes of reuniting the members of her war-fractured family faded. In a detailed text that moves smoothly around in time, Goudeau effectively humanizes the worldwide refugee crisis while calling much-needed attention to a badly broken American immigration system.

Sharp, provocative, timely reading.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55913-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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