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Tag: Ishmael Beah

Teens Coming to America

Asian girlThanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity to appreciate the experiences of young people who have immigrated to the United States. Like the Pilgrims, who came to America in search of freedoms they did not have at home, families from every part of the world have sought safety on American soil. Some of these families were welcomed, like the Pilgrims. Others have faced language barriers,  poverty,  and prejudice to make their homes in America.

All of the books below have appeared on select YALSA lists as noted. They are true accounts; memoirs, biographies, and third person accounts.  There are also many great YA novels that explore the difficulty teens face when first encountering American culture. For some great suggestions, check out YALSA’s 2013 Popular Paperback list, I’m New Here Myself.


The Other Side of the Sky by Farah Ahmedi

The Other Side of the Sky: A Memoir by Farah Ahmedi
(Popular Paperbacks, 2007)

Born in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviets, Farah Ahmedi had a child’s knowledge of danger. Rockets were a familiar sight in the night sky; bombs a familiar noise in the countryside. Nevertheless, she was excited to be going to school and loved her teacher. One day, however, Farah took a shortcut to school that cut across a field…and stepped on a mine, losing her leg. Assimilating to a new culture is always difficult, but when Farah finally gets to the United States she has more than her share of obstacles.

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War-Torn Lives: Nonfiction

Source-Mourning WorldThere is much that is inexpressible about the experience of war. Images can powerfully communicate moments in time — an anguished parent, an exhausted soldier, bullet-riddled walls — but they can’t recreate the constant threat of death. Words can convey fear, grief, and victory, but not the smell of burning flesh. Or how time moves differently during battle. Or how completely the light leaves the eyes of the dying, and that empty moment after. Many survivors do not talk about their experiences because there is no context for understanding in the peacetime world. But others feel compelled to tell their stories, to keep the world from forgetting the sacrifices made and lives lost.

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