Book Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Posted November 15, 2021 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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American Street

American Street

by Ibi Zoboi

Publisher: Balzer + Bray on February 14, 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Representation: BIPOC Authors, BIPOC Character(s), Black Authors, Black Character(s), Haitian Character(s), Haitian-American Authors
Content Warnings: Addiction, Blood, Bullying, Chronic Illness, Death, Death of Parent, Drug Abuse, Drug Use, Grief, Gun Violence, Murder, Physical Abuse, Police Brutality, Racism, Sexual Content, Toxic Relationship, Violence

Rating: ★★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads or buy the book at Bookshop.org

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?


Whelp. That was an ending I didn’t anticipate.

For my first book by Ibi Zoboi, American Street hit hard! In a good way, but also in a sad way. I quickly fell in love with Fabiola “Fabulous” Toussaint. From the way her dialogue is written, to her vibrant internal monologue, to her flow of emotions and determination and love and fear… Fabiola is a beautiful multi-faceted character and the perfect one to be telling this story.

From the first pages of the book, the world challenges Fabiola. Upon entering the United States, her mother is detained in immigration. Detroit is not quite the place she imagined. Despite an excellent education in Haiti, she has to navigate a new school with a slightly different way of doing things and she has to navigate the rules of the West Side. Meanwhile, everyone seems determined to keep as much information from her as possible – they want her to live a good life and stay out of the bad parts of their world. But Fabiola will do anything to get her mother back.

For me, the characters in this story are its greatest strength, and since American Street is an excellent book, that’s saying a lot. Each one is deeply developed, with their own story that slowly unravels around Fabiola. They each have their own motives and their own secrets. The plot takes you through a few unexpected twists, but those twists are all that much stronger because of the way the characters shine.

Reader be warned, there is also a lot of difficult content in American Street. Most prominent, to me, is the toxic relationship between two characters (that includes physical abuse) and murder by police. There’s a lot of joyful moments in American Street, but there are also quite a few bad moments. Be prepared for both.

I enjoyed reading this book and it will definitely be one I add to my “to buy” list, because I could read it again. The world is vibrant, real, and alive. There’s important social themes addressed in American Street, and characters that stick with you. It may not be a book with a happy ending, but it is a book with an impactful one.

Setting

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Characters

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Pacing

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Personal Enjoyment

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Plot

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Writing

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Narrator

Rating: 5 out of 5.
send me your thoughts

Have you read any other books by Ibi Zoboi?

If so, which ones? Did you enjoy them?

Share with me in the comments!

stay magical amber

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