Fabiola has just gotten off the plane from Haiti into the United States. It is her first time back since she was a baby. She is excited to start her new life with her mother as they plan to move in with Fabiola’s aunt and cousins in Detroit. Before they can reach their connecting flight to Detroit, Fabiola’s mother is detained by customs. They don’t believe that she is just here for “a visit.”
Now, Fabiola finds herself immersed into an American culture that she feels unprepared for. At the corner of American Street and Joy road, Fabiola has important decisions to make. Her fighting cousins, empty fridge, and quiet aunt are just a few of the things this America has in store for her.
Before we get into the review, check out these pictures I took myself. I’m working on taking more pictures myself. If you have any picture taking advice, let me know in the comments.
My grandma and uncle go to Haiti pretty regularly so we have a lot of souvenirs. I felt they fit the book pretty well.
I wanted to like this book, I wanted to love it. It’s by a Haitian author and it was marketed as being centered on the main character’s life as an immigrant whose mother is taken by customs. I love strong black leads, I love books that deal with real issues, and I love supporting black authors (especially with so few mainstream Haitian authors out there). But I’m sad to say, American Street missed the mark for me.
The romance felt stiff and like it was made more out of convenience. Towards the end I was reading about how head over heels Kasim was for Fabiola and I found myself questioning it. I was nearly finished with the book and I couldn’t figure out what made Fabiola, the MAIN character, so special to him.
The character development was so choppy. There was way too much back and forth, even though I understood the characters motives, I just didn’t like how it was presented. I will say, I enjoyed those italicized sections that gave a little more insight on the characters, that was a take I hadn’t seen before.
I think the plot development was pretty good. The pacing was reasonable and the scenes shifted smoothly. I think the characters were the main problem for me. I’m more into plot-driven narratives but I just couldn’t connect to the characters.
As a Haitian person, I feel like the use of vodou as a large part of the plot was very disconcerting. It made me incredibly uncomfortable when those portions of the book came up. That was another big issue for me.
I just think this book could’ve gone in so many other directions besides the one it took. I really wanted to love it, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Keep in mind, just because I didn’t enjoy it doesn’t mean that you won’t either.