In these stories of farewells and fresh starts, crafted with discernment and compassion, book clubs will find inspiration for vibrant discussion.
Eitan Green, an Israeli surgeon, is involved in a fateful accident in Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s suspenseful novel Waking Lions. During a late-night drive, Eitan hits and kills an Eritrean man and leaves the scene. When the victim’s wife tracks him down, she agrees to keep silent about the incident if Eitan promises to secretly treat undocumented Eritrean immigrants. Eitan agrees, but the decision leads him into a web of deceit. This razor-sharp examination of the plight of displaced peoples will give reading groups plenty to talk about as it delves into questions of integrity, loyalty and honesty.
For reading groups that enjoy science and social history, Daniel Okrent’s The Guarded Gate focuses on the eugenics movement in early 20th-century America and how it helped bring about the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, a law that prevented millions of Europeans from immigrating to the United States. This volume is a sobering, expansive study of discrimination and nativism, but it’s also eminently readable thanks to Okrent’s accessible writing style.
In Rakesh Satyal’s novel No One Can Pronounce My Name, Harit, a middle-aged Indian immigrant, lives with his troubled mother in the Cleveland suburbs. They are each mourning the death of Harit’s sister, Swati, in their own ways. Harit finds an unexpected friend in Ranjana, a fellow immigrant coping with her own losses by secretly writing paranormal romances. Satyal fashions a narrative tinged with melancholy and humor in this rewarding book, which engages with issues of gender roles and family ties.
American Street, Ibi Zoboi’s debut YA novel, tells the story of 16-year-old Fabiola, who leaves Haiti to settle with her mother, Valerie, in Detroit. When they arrive in the United States, Valerie is detained by customs officials. After being taken in by her American cousins, Fabiola grapples with an unfamiliar culture while trying to hold on to the traditions of home. Poignant but hopeful, American Street is a powerful examination of identity and kinship that’s enriched by Zoboi’s use of Haitian mythology. It’s an unforgettable account of the difficulties of assimilation and the experience of being an outsider.