Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are the perfect couple, until she decides to leave their home country of Nigeria to attend college in the United States. The adjustment to her new surroundings is so difficult that Ifemelu cuts off contact with Obinze. Eventually, she’s able to turn her observations of her new home into a provocative and successful blog. Years later, when Ifemelu decides to move back to Nigeria, she has no choice but to confront her past and her lingering feelings for Obinze.
The Sun Is Also a Star
Daniel and Natasha could not seem more different: she’s interested in science and facts while he’s a dreamer and a poet. What do they have in common? Both are children of immigrants. Korean-American Daniel’s family wants him to go to an Ivy League college and pursue a high-paying career, while Natasha is fighting to keep her family from being deported to Jamaica. The teenagers meet by chance and spend only one day together, but it’s a day that changes them both forever.
The Book of Unknown Americans
The Riveras are happy with their life in Mexico, but when their 15-year-old daughter, Maribel, is injured, their only hope to get her medical attention is to risk everything to go to the United States. Not long after arriving, Maribel meets and falls in love with her neighbor, Mayor Toro, creating major repercussions for everyone involved.
America Is Not the Heart
Hero de Vera arrives in California, where she begins working as a caretaker at her uncle Pol’s house. Pol, her employer and sponsor, is the father of Roni, the first American-born child in Hero’s family, and it’s Roni who’s bold enough to ask Hero about her past in the Philippines. As we find out more about what brought Hero to the U.S., we learn not only about human endurance but also about a woman’s fight against a variety of patriarchal cultures, including the newest one she finds in the states.
In 1990, a young man arrives in the U.S. from India to begin his graduate studies. Kailash, whose name evokes nicknames from his peers like Kalashnikov and AK-47, is eager to study the meeting of East and West as he moves from one to the other, and is constantly aware of his status as an immigrant from a once-colonized country on this still-colonized land.
Since its inception, the United States has been a melting pot, home to people of different cultures and backgrounds. As immigration becomes an increasingly political rather than human issue, the stories of those who immigrate to this country become more important than ever—and yet too often go unnoticed. These fictional books feature diverse and complex characters, all coming to America for a fresh start.
Featured Image: Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress