Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi
Sara came to America from Iran when she was 2 years old on a visitor’s visa. Her parents applied for political asylum, but discovered a couple years later their application had been lost. They applied for an adjustment of status, but remained undocumented for many years. She didn’t learn of her status until she was nearly 13 and spent almost a decade worried she would be deported back to Iran at any moment.
This memoir is super funny. I found myself laughing out loud or finding someone to read a few lines to several times while reading. Some examples:
*Iran has dealt with its fair share of strife and political unrest. And while I’m not one to point fingers or lay blame… the United States and Britain were totally at fault.
*My sister and I tried to find common ground with our half-American cousins, but that took a while to pan out. It didn’t help that we’d infiltrated their space AND that my sister’s favorite pastime was sending me off to bite them. I guess the rumors are true. Illegal immigrants are violent and dangerous.
*I was also the student body president of our elementary school. Yeah, I was an undocumented immigrant who’d been elected to public office. How you like me now, ICE?
*My dad even tried to impress him by telling him that my parents had seen Ozzy Osbourne in concert.
“Really?” Slash asked.
“Yeah,” my dad answered. “He was onstage with all his brothers and sisters.”
“Those were the OSMONDS!” my mom corrected.
Each chapter had a different focus, about growing up straddling two cultures or about various family members or about her family’s journey to citizenship (and the little brother who never had to worry about that because he was born in the US). Her political leanings are clear so this is probably not the right book for someone who strongly supports Trump or is opposed to alternative paths to citizenship. I recommend it to adults who are interested in immigration stories and want to laugh at a life the author probably thinks is kind of boring, but definitely isn’t.
4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 86
Pages Read in 2021: 27,800
Battle Dragons: City of Thieves by Alex London
Battle Dragons: City of Thieves is a fast-paced book. The world is built very quickly and with plenty of details for the age range. It’s a little awkward at first remembering that they and them refers to Roa, just because it’s not often in writing, but you quickly get used to it and it’s not at all a big deal. The story is wrapped up nicely but opens up a bit of what will happen in the next book in the series. I’d say that though it’s rated as a middle grade book, it’s best for those at the latter end of that range. I definitely recommend this book to kids and early teens who love dragons and wish they could have one of their own.
5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 69
Pages Read in 2021: 22,084
The School I Deserve by Jo Napolitano
The School I Deserve chronicles the 2016 court battle against the Lancaster school system that won older (17+) refugees the right to go to the regular high school rather than be shunted to the last chance school for at risk youth. The writing is excellent and really guides you through the case day by day. Interspersed throughout is background on some of the refugees named in the case, as well as what was going on in the country, at the rise of Trump, related to refugees and their education (as well as increasing anti-refugee sentiment). I found it to be quite fascinating. I recommend it to anyone interested in refugee rights or curious about how life goes for refugees once they have been resettled in America.
5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 35
Pages Read in 2021: 10,135
Broke in America by Joanne Samuel Goldblum and Colleen Shaddox
There are a lot of people living in poverty in this country. Broke in America attempts to humanize them by telling their stories and explaining how various aspects of poverty affect other seemingly unrelated things in their lives. Every chapter has ideas on how you can help. I found the book to be very informative without sounding preachy. I learned a whole lot from it. Having dealt with some of the things discussed as a foster parent, I could relate just a little to how frustrating dealing with bureaucratic red tape can be. The main point of the book is to do something to help our fellow humans. I very highly recommend Broke in America.
5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 32
Pages Read in 2021: 9072
Silence is a Scary Sound by Clint Edwards
As the mother of ten kids, five of whom are currently in the toddler stage, Silence is a Scary Sound is incredibly relatable (silence is a terrifying sound when it’s my 2-year-old somewhere in the house not making any noise). It’s incredibly honest about so many things including no sleep and lots of poop and how you’d do it again because when it’s over you appreciate and miss that crazy time when they were little (because somehow we forget about just how crazy it was). The author has a way of telling the stories that will have you cracking up. Each chapter is like a blog post, quick and easy to read. The only thing I didn’t like about the book is the formatting. For some reason every few pages they inserted a bit of repeated text from elsewhere on the page in a different font right in the middle of the story. I found this very annoying. Otherwise it was great. Definitely make sure to look at the last page where a rather amusing index is included. I recommend this book to parents with toddlers or who used to have toddlers, but probably not to people without kids because they might be convinced to never have any and then the author would be solely to blame for the birthrate dropping and that wouldn’t be cool.
4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 27
Pages Read in 2021: 7450
I Want You to Know We’re Still Here by Esther Safran Foer
Parts of I Want You to Know We’re Still Here were quite interesting and parts were dreadfully boring. It seemed the author wanted to tell her family’s post-Holocaust story. She eventually did and did it well. But then she got bogged down in this and that person and recent times and taking a trip to Ukraine to see where her parents had lived. It got quite tedious, really, at times. I feel like the book really was meant for her family or people who have a personal connection to her family. For the post-Holocaust story, it’s great, but as a book to read in its entirety, I don’t really recommend it (just skip the personal journey parts).
2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 24
Pages Read in 2021: 6524
Raising Multiracial Children by Farzana Nayani
Aside from being dreadfully dry and boring, Raising Multiracial Children didn’t seem to have a clear focus or purpose (definitely not what the title indicates). The author rambles on and on and is very disorganized. Sometimes she’s talking to parents, sometimes to teachers, switching sometimes in the middle of a single paragraph. There are some excellent statistics and a few gems for raising children from multiple races or ethnicities, but for the most part it’s just not a very well-written book. Everything useful in it could have been written in a handful of blog posts. This is a book to skip.
2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 21
Pages Read in 2021: 5733
Potty Training for Busy Parents by Allison Jandu
There’s nothing much new in Potty Training for Busy Parents. It’s the same old advice for how to potty train little ones with an extra emphasis on using little potties and pushing potty training younger than most people start trying. There’s a lot of repetition and it’s short and to the point. It really should be called Potty Training for Special Snowflakes, though. The repeated advice to basically demand that daycare follow how you want to potty train and to send in this weird form filled out so the daycare knows how best to train precious little junior (like they havn’t trained hundreds of kids already) is a bit over the top. I also would not say it’s for busy parents, just ones who work and have plenty of time when they aren’t at work to potty train. I suggest skipping this one if you are looking for potty training advice.
3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 19
Pages Read in 2021: 5116
Discipline Your Kids with Positive Parenting by Nicole Libin, PhD
The author has one child, and that child doesn’t sound very old. The author does have a lot of experience with advising other people how to parent and extensive academic knowledge. However, academic knowledge doesn’t really give the real world experience needed for writing a parenting book.
I have always parented my kids very much like outlined in this book so she was mostly just preaching to the choir. I believe strongly that discipline should come from a place of teaching as the root indicates it should (discipulus is Latin for student or disciple). I have ten children ranging in age from 1 to 21, six of whom are adopted from foster care. Positive parenting has worked beautifully for us.
The thing is, I don’t think if I was just coming to positive parenting or was looking for help in how to parent differently that this book would be all that helpful. It was long on “just connect! it’s worked with my one single child!” and short of actual how to. I understood what she was trying to say to do simply because it’s what I do naturally.
More real world examples (it would have been okay if they came from situations where she was not the caregiver) would have been very useful. The few examples given were just her parenting her daughter. As anyone with more than one kid knows some kids are just naturally easier to parent than others so examples from one child don’t indicate at all that this way of parenting will work with all kids (I know it does, but it does take time and effort).
The constant focus on “self-care” was completely unnecessary and took away from the usefulness of the book. It repeatedly mentioned mindfulness (the author is a “mindfulness educator”) but didn’t really explain what she meant and just seemed like a bit of psychobabble and use of a buzzword.
I do not recommend this book to people who are interested in learning how to parent positively. There are many other better books on the subject out there.
2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 17
Pages Read in 2021: 4721
Growing Pains by Amanda Hill, M.Ed.
Covering every year from 4 to 10, Growing Pains is a quick read on basic child development and stages. There are lots of tips for how to handle various situations that are often encountered each of those age years both in the moment and if you wait until later on to address it. The ideas in the book skew heavily to gentle discipline and positive, respectful parenting. It’s written as if you are just having a conversation with the author. It’s got a healthy dose of commiseration as well as her admitting she’s definitely not a perfect parent to her own children and sometimes needs to calm down and back up, too. There are lots of “real life” examples included. While it’s certainly not comprehensive and doesn’t cover everything you’ll encounter raising your children, many of the ideas can be adjusted to fit other situations and it definitely lets you know you are not alone wondering what in the world your kids were thinking. I highly recommend it to parents, particular those who lean toward gentle/positive parenting.
5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 5
Pages Read in 2021: 1308