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Camel from Kyzylkum

In this memoir, the author narrates her life journey as an immigrant, a mother, a grandmother, and an independent woman from Ukraine to the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan (then a part of the Soviet Union), through Austria and Italy, all the way to the United States. Standing as a testament to her indomitable spirit and sheer willpower, the book tells us an inspiring tale of grit and endurance in the face of unforgettable hardships. Using a simple and engaging tone, Lara speaks about her own diverse experiences and leaves the readers spellbound with her quest for a better life.

Written during the pandemic year, this memoir is a genuinely heartwarming account of the various challenges the author faced and overcame during her life. Although one can argue about the linearity of the plot structure, a rough chronology is followed throughout the story, most of which flows uninterrupted in the form of flashbacks. This particular characteristic of the narrative makes it seem almost like a diary, recording the various emotional upheavals of the author’s journey rather than the individual events themselves.

Lara describes her personal ordeals with surprising candor. Starting with her process of immigration, her struggle to re-establish herself in a foreign country, and her effort to learn the new language. Readers then learn of her constant fight to bring her daughter from the Soviet Union to join her and the painful break from her family. She was left feeling betrayed and filled with grief. To finally accept reality and reach towards other sources of fulfillment, we accompany her on her travels and witness each phase of her life as they shape the person she has become today.

But unlike memoirs of great people, who always seem to be placed on a pedestal and therefore seem detached from our lives, Lara’s story touches us deeply because we can empathize with her. This is the story of an ordinary person like us. A woman who got uprooted from her birthplace and was forced to leave behind everything she knew as her own to try and build her future in a strange land surrounded by unknown people. Yet, ultimately, what makes it inspiring is that it is a story about never giving up.

Pages: 191 | ASIN : B09Y7GTZQS

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DREAMer 

Kate and Lawrence are driving back from their couples’ vacation when they spot a young girl sitting on a rock all by herself on a deserted highway. Fearing that something is amiss, they stop to investigate and end up picking up the mysterious girl. Armed with nothing more than a few postcards with postmarks from obscure U.S towns and some photographs found on the child, Kate and Lawrence embark on a mission to solve the mystery behind the girl’s identity and reunite her with a family they aren’t even sure she has.

DREAMer delivers a touching snapshot of the reality of undocumented immigrants through the story of a fictional main character. Author Emily Gallo cleverly plays with the acronym DREAM. This U.S. act offers undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors temporary residency and permission to attend school and work. This act is used as the basis to depict her main character’s fate under the law and her quest as a dreamer. The book is a wholesome tale of sacrifice and compassion and a needed reminder of the good humans are capable of.

Gallo gives her characters very well-defined personalities allowing readers to get to know them quickly as the story opens. She also executes the story well by centering on just three characters, allowing her to wrap up the storyline quickly, making this an easy read. There’s no doubt that Gallo did her research as she effectively highlights seemingly obscure locations in the United States that host minority communities and are quick stops for immigrants. As a result, readers will enjoy learning about the dynamics of immigration. In addition, the book reads like an adventure story because the characters are on the road for most of the story, so their road trips give readers something to look forward to aside from the unraveling plot.

DREAMer is a through-provoking book that readers of historical fiction will find captivating. In this well-crafted novel, you have a story that’s educating, deeply thoughtful, and entertaining.

Pages: 199 | ASIN : B09278WTQ8

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Just Arrived

Just Arrived: A Different World by Bona Udeze is the informative and detailed account of a young man from Africa on his journey towards living in another country. It is a fantastic representation of what immigrants experience and the people they meet as they travel to start their lives somewhere else, in this case the protagonist Emeka Mmadunebo is beginning his life in America.

The first person narrative allows the reader to gain an insight into the main characters thoughts and feelings towards his brand new adventure, as well as how he explores his emotions towards his life back home. Almost written in the style of a diary, you follow each challenge he faces and experience the joys and turbulence of his entire journey.

Highlighting the contrasts between the two very different cultures of Africa and America is done excellently, especially when the narrator questions some of the tales he is told by others who have been to the U.S. through one of the many flashbacks of his life in Africa. This thought-provoking saga emphasizes to the reader some of the things taken for granted and how these may be seen by those from a different background.

Another way Emeka’s culture is threaded throughout is with the clever use of dialect, phrases such as ‘akara and akamu’ draw the readers attention to the cultural origin of the main character. In some places this can become a little harder to read, for example ‘You wan changi dalla, or you wan buy American dalla or Britis poun?’ by writing this phonetically it can sometimes become difficult for the reader to imagine the voice of a character.

Just Arrived: A Different World by Bona Udeze, highlights cultural differences from several perspectives. Written in the style of a diary or a biographical account rather than in the style of a novel readers will be immersed in the characters lives and emotions. This engrossing book is a great fit for readers that enjoy cultural fiction and family life fiction.

Pages: 310 | ASIN : B09GX9K453

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