I’m FINALLY able to take this off my tbr!! I feel like it’s been there for so long, it’s such a great feeling to cross this off the list, especially since I ended up really liking this book.
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?
I have a lot of thoughts about this book, so please bear with me as I try to organize them in at least a semi-coherent manner.
Let’s start with the characters. We had a relatively large cast of characters, particularly within Fabiola’s family. Despite the fact that there are twins in the midst of an already large cast, each character was unique and distinct. Honestly, I didn’t feel all that close to Fabiola, which I think has something to do with the fact that I listened to this book instead of read it. She had many conflicts throughout the novel but I felt like she lacked the amount of depth I expect from a main character.
The author added a spin to the structure of the story that did help me feel closer to some of the secondary characters. Zoboi periodically added POV chapters from the secondary characters, bringing them way closer to the central spotlight of the story. Each of these chapters provided a drastically different perspective than Fabiola’s chapters and challenged my thinking.
The conflicts were a-plenty and were intense. There’s a lot in here about immigration, poverty, drugs, abuse, violence, and murder/death. The author tackles these topics with a level of understanding that draws the reader in without glorifying or undermining their importance and seriousness. I feel like I gained new perspectives on these topics and am walking away from the book with questions and a desire to learn more about them.
I loved the integration of Fabiola’s practice of voodoo and religion. This is one part of Fabiola’s Haitian culture that really makes her stand out from her Detroit family, and the role Papa Legba played in the story was a really great addition.
Despite all these great things about this book, I felt a distance between myself and the story that stops me from giving it 5 stars. Maybe I can’t relate to enough of the story, or maybe it was the format I read it in, but I never felt really close to Fabiola couldn’t really understand where many of the Detroit characters’ motivations were coming from. Still, the story, writing, and narration were all great and I’d definitely recommend this book.