“I felt the way I often felt in this country - simultaneously conspicuous and invisible, like an oddity whom everyone noticed but chose to ignore”
I am somehow both fulfilled and empty after finishing the Book of Unknown Americans. It wasn't the easiest of reads, but I also could not stop. A peculiarity, a paradox that will stay with me for a long time.
As an immigrant myself (a word that is a stigma now more than it was 5 years ago, when this book was written, because the world is going backwards) I found an avalanche of things I related to. And lats year when I read Girl in Translation I also found many things I could relate to. Even though I don't have anything in common with either culture. And just now I realized that it doesn't matter where we come from. We're all the same. It only matters where we come to.
“Maybe it’s the instinct of every immigrant, born of necessity or of longing: Someplace else will be better than here. And the condition: if only I can get to that place.”
The way this reads, a step above young adult, but still abrasive enough, and thought provoking in the best of literary ways - sucked me in completely. The in between chapters were heartbreaking, some even more the others, and added a beautiful collectiveness to the overall story.
“I know some people here think we’re trying to take over, but we just want to be a part of it. We want to have our stake. This is our home, too.”
Sometimes you have to uproot your life and start over. Everybody's reason is different, but all of them valid. Sometimes you stay rooted in new place, weathering all the storms, and sometimes you can't, and the wind blows you away. The Book of Unknown Americans is a beautiful piece of a hard lives collected in 300+ pages. It's well worth the read.