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10 thoughts on “Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares

  1. says:

    I want to be Aarti Shahani when I grow up Not just adult Aarti, author of this exquisite memoir, but the young girl that, after exhausting all other avenues, wrote directly to the judge presiding over her father s case So often, in fact, that the judge called her his pen pal In a way, that sums up her essence In no way does it encapsulate her whole hearted determination or accomplishments Ms Shahani shares her story, alongside her father s, generously and honestly Here We Are American I want to be Aarti Shahani when I grow up Not just adult Aarti, author of this exquisite memoir, but the young girl that, after exhausting all other avenues, wrote directly to the judge presiding over her father s case So often, in fact, that the judge called her his pen pal In a way, that sums up her essence In no way does it encapsulate her whole hearted determination or accomplishments Ms Shahani shares her story, alongside her father s, generously and honestly Here We Are American Dreams, American Nightmares is a courageous and remarkably thoughtful way to illustrate stunning errors, inconsistencies and absolute apathy within the immigration system of the United States Her self education started in adolescence when her family s American Dream Life was demolished The successful electronics store that her father and uncle were so proud of, was ensnared in the criminal investigation of so many cash based businesses on Broadway A Columbian cartel was laundering money No one within the judicial or legislative system mentioned that it would be highly unusual and unlikely for Indians to be Cali foot soldiers.At that time, Ms Shahani did not imagine the volume of mistakes that had been made and ignored throughout her father s processing She did know that things were not right For her family and, to her initial surprise, many of her immigrant neighbors As she learned, she passed on her knowledge Her assistance and action created ripples all across the continental U.S Ms Shahani s tone elevates this already compelling narrative She does not attempt to hide her feelings or opinions, but they are clearly separated from explanations of policies and procedures The objective, but not unfeeling, telling also shows that other countries have issues as well It was not the U.S that errantly issued a new passport to someone immediately after London s highest court had revoked all travel papers.I finished this book with a new awareness of the intricacies and gaping holes in the immigration and deportation system Ms Shahani s conversational tone, warmed by her obvious affections and admirations, make reading her memoir like catching up with a cherished friend in the comfiest of coffee shops I am so glad that I get to take this gem to my students next week I don t think I could wait any longer.This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books, with huge thanks to Celadon Books for the Advance Review Copy going to my favorite classroom library


  2. says:

    The author writes about her family, the Shahanis, who moved to Queens from India, stopping in Casablanca on the way At first they are undocumented, but then they receive green cards Aarti is attending an elite Manhattan prep school on scholarship, when her dad gets into some legal trouble by mistakenly selling goods to a drug cartel.Gosh There are so many things about this book I loved First of all, what it s all about the complexity in immigrant families and the stories we don t hear, alon The author writes about her family, the Shahanis, who moved to Queens from India, stopping in Casablanca on the way At first they are undocumented, but then they receive green cards Aarti is attending an elite Manhattan prep school on scholarship, when her dad gets into some legal trouble by mistakenly selling goods to a drug cartel.Gosh There are so many things about this book I loved First of all, what it s all about the complexity in immigrant families and the stories we don t hear, along with a daughter s abiding love her father, even if the two couldn t bedifferent There s a lot to relate to there.This is a memoir that reads just as well as fiction It s well told and compelling, and I loved every bit.Many of my reviews can also be found on my instagram www.instagram.com tarheelreader


  3. says:

    Aarti Namdev Shahani s true story of her family s coming to the USA, is a hard one to read, even knowing that her family was so much luckier than many other similar families The Shahani s were struggling before they came to the US, although it s sort of funny that they were running from her dad s very overbearing familythan from political aspects of their country Once in the US, undocumented at first and then with green cards, the family member who struggles the most is Shahani s fathe Aarti Namdev Shahani s true story of her family s coming to the USA, is a hard one to read, even knowing that her family was so much luckier than many other similar families The Shahani s were struggling before they came to the US, although it s sort of funny that they were running from her dad s very overbearing familythan from political aspects of their country Once in the US, undocumented at first and then with green cards, the family member who struggles the most is Shahani s father, who can only find menial, low paying labor, sweeping streets Tensions are high with her mom able to make decent money by sewing and her mom fitting in well in the tenement area where they first live Even Aarti and her brother and sister are able to contributeto the finances than their father, who is not accustomed to this demotion as the family member able to contribute the least to the family s welfare Eventually Aarti s dad is able to have his own business with his brother, but they unknowingly sell watches and calculators to the Cali drug cartel and they begin living in legal hell Both men end up in Rikkers with Aarti s uncle being deported from the country after his release and Aarti fighting to find ways to keep her very ill father from suffering the same fate What we learn is that justice and good endings are for those who are wealthy, in power, and who have access to the best that money can buy All it can take is the right buzzword from a lawyer who cares or enough money to grease the system and those with the means can keep on doing what they were doing with no repercussions and continuing to haul in the wealth Instead, poor people, people with no means to defend themselves, can be hauled in to take the blame for any wrongdoing Aarti and her family are intelligent, hard working people and it hurt to read about their hardships When Aarti s father was arrested, she was a teenager and it was only through luck, research, digging deep and not giving up, that Aarti was able to help her father so much Sadly these things happen to many people, not just immigrants but immigrants have the added fear of being deported as soon as they are give the label of troublemakers, with no opportunity to defend themselves This is Aarti s memoir to her father and also the story of how much of her soul went into taking care of her family in the best way that she could take care of them In the end, with all that she knows now about how to help immigrants, we are left with the knowledge of how the battle to help her father, wore Aarti down and left her without the energy to continue that type of work Thank you to Celadon Books for this ARC that I was able to read with the Goodreads Traveling Sisters


  4. says:

    I loved this book so much and it made me very emotional because I am immigrant myself I came to this country when I was 24 years old My parents struggled the same way that Aarti parents did But because of this whole experience we became stronger people and sky is the limit Very well written memoir by aartinamdevshahani, I could feel the strong connection between Aarti and her father, and other members of the family Author also talks about how justice system is broken and corrupt specially I loved this book so much and it made me very emotional because I am immigrant myself I came to this country when I was 24 years old My parents struggled the same way that Aarti parents did But because of this whole experience we became stronger people and sky is the limit Very well written memoir by aartinamdevshahani, I could feel the strong connection between Aarti and her father, and other members of the family Author also talks about how justice system is broken and corrupt specially when dealing with immigrants Happy 4th of July


  5. says:

    Here We Are American Dreams, American Nightmares is a compelling, heart wrenching memoir by NPR Correspondent Aarti Namdev Shahani It is the story about an immigrant family s American Dream, the justice system that took it away, and the daughter who fought to get it back.The Shahani family arrive in Queens, NY from India through Casablanca in the 1980 s It is the first hand account of an undocumented person and the eye opening obstacles they must endure It is difficult to imagine the struggl Here We Are American Dreams, American Nightmares is a compelling, heart wrenching memoir by NPR Correspondent Aarti Namdev Shahani It is the story about an immigrant family s American Dream, the justice system that took it away, and the daughter who fought to get it back.The Shahani family arrive in Queens, NY from India through Casablanca in the 1980 s It is the first hand account of an undocumented person and the eye opening obstacles they must endure It is difficult to imagine the struggle they faced against seemingly insurmountable odds.I was deeply moved by the unconditional love between daughter and father as they navigate the complexities of life in America.Highly Recommended Thank you to NetGalley and Celadon Books for an arc of this novel in exchange for my honest review


  6. says:

    Aarti Nandev Shahani, a compelling storyteller and a correspondent for NPR, tells about the difficulties and opportunities experienced by her immigrant family The family traveled from India to Casablanca where she and her siblings were born They moved to the United States, and soon received their green cards Aarti was a talented student who received scholarships to a prestigious prep school and university The Shahani family was full of hope that they were on the way to living the American dr Aarti Nandev Shahani, a compelling storyteller and a correspondent for NPR, tells about the difficulties and opportunities experienced by her immigrant family The family traveled from India to Casablanca where she and her siblings were born They moved to the United States, and soon received their green cards Aarti was a talented student who received scholarships to a prestigious prep school and university The Shahani family was full of hope that they were on the way to living the American dream.Unfortunately, her father and uncle sold watches in their shop to people who were members of the Cali drug cartel The cartel used them and other immigrant shopkeepers in a money laundering scheme Her father was a pawn in the illegal scheme and had poor advice from his lawyer He was imprisoned and the immigration officials threatened to deport him Aarti tells how she became a community activist for immigrant families who were caught in the gray areas of immigrant law These families usually did not have the language skills or the money for good legal representation Outcomes depended partly on the luck of getting a stay while the legal wheels were grinding.Aarti compares the experiences of her father who had to work menial jobs at first, and deal with frightening legal and medical issues with her own opportunities and success So many immigrant families have stories that are not completely positive or completely negative, but fall into that confusing gray area legally The author wrote a heartfelt and enlightening memoir that had times of love and laughter as well as times of despair The Shahanis were pillars of support to each other and the immigrant community on their way to citizenship Thank you to Celadon Books and the author for the opportunity to read this ARC


  7. says:

    2.5 stars


  8. says:

    Thanks to MacMillan for the ARC at BEA 2019, and to Aarti Shahani for signing my copy When my friend and I, who are both South Asian, were getting this book signed at BEA we were kinda stunned It s rare you see a desi writer, especially in something that isn t in the sciences Shahani asked both of us where in the homeland we were from I ll never get tired of the excitement I feel when I say my family is from Gujarat and that actually means something to the person I m talking to , and she told Thanks to MacMillan for the ARC at BEA 2019, and to Aarti Shahani for signing my copy When my friend and I, who are both South Asian, were getting this book signed at BEA we were kinda stunned It s rare you see a desi writer, especially in something that isn t in the sciences Shahani asked both of us where in the homeland we were from I ll never get tired of the excitement I feel when I say my family is from Gujarat and that actually means something to the person I m talking to , and she told us she hoped the book would resonate with us, as fellow desis.I am very glad to report it did, in ways I couldn t have imagined.This book is Aarti Shahani telling her family s whole immigration story from her parents moving first to Morocco and then to Queens, growing up in poverty, to the defining crisis of her late childhood and early adulthood when her father gets tied up in the criminal legal and immigration system Shahani doesn t hold back as she shows us her family s struggles with her father serving prison time and dealing with our country s inhumane immigration policies It s a moving, powerful story and Shahani is an amazing writer Meanwhile, her struggles to make a difference in the world and desire to change things while battling social circumstances and traditions resonated unbelievably strongly with me Every single brown person needs to read this book And you know what, everyone else too But this is a part of our story our community has shied away from telling We ve been willing to pretend that the immigration debate doesn t pertain to us, but it does Shahani s story shows how important it is for us to never forget that.Highly reccomend I m already forcing my entire family to read this book, and I can t wait till it comes out so I can make every brown person in my life read it Thank you Shahani Thank you for telling your story and inspiringof us to tell ours


  9. says:

    Thank you to MacMillion for providing a copy of this book at BEA 2019 and thank you to Aarti Shahani for signing my copy I ve loved to read ever since I was young I would look to books and book characters as my form of escapism and have been able to live hundreds of lives that in no way reflect mine To find myself in stories I would latch on the character traits or other aspects, ignoring how their culture and skin color would never match mine And especially when it comes to memoirs, I ve al Thank you to MacMillion for providing a copy of this book at BEA 2019 and thank you to Aarti Shahani for signing my copy I ve loved to read ever since I was young I would look to books and book characters as my form of escapism and have been able to live hundreds of lives that in no way reflect mine To find myself in stories I would latch on the character traits or other aspects, ignoring how their culture and skin color would never match mine And especially when it comes to memoirs, I ve always gotten the feeling that my story isn t worth being told That in the fight for justice and equality, I m not at the topbut I m not at the bottom so I should just stop complaining and appreciate what I ve got But I m so glad I have finally been able to read a story that resonates with me and my family s experience Aarti Shahani is a phenomenal writer She beautifully articulates her and her family s story, highlighting some of the glaring problems with the current immigration system She talks about her experiences growing up in America, how one scholarship offer to a private school was able to change the trajectory of her life, giving her the tools and connections to help her own family and other families in similar circumstances.Overall, this is a fantastic memoir and I would recommend it to anyone, particularly any desi readers looking to find themselves within the pages


  10. says:

    This is a fascinating memoir written by Ms Shahani detailing her family s immigration from India to New York She clearly communicates her personal experiences while also providing a unique view of immigration and the problems with the current system The entire book was very eye opening to me, because I m about as far from this experience as I could possibly be, but the author paints such a vivid picture that I was able to come to an understanding of her life The part where she is attempting t This is a fascinating memoir written by Ms Shahani detailing her family s immigration from India to New York She clearly communicates her personal experiences while also providing a unique view of immigration and the problems with the current system The entire book was very eye opening to me, because I m about as far from this experience as I could possibly be, but the author paints such a vivid picture that I was able to come to an understanding of her life The part where she is attempting to explain the pronunciation and spelling of her name really hit home for me and made me think about my interactions with others for the future I had my heart broken many times through the course of this book because her family s life has not been easy or painless Ms Shahani is very real though, and tells it like it is so that it can t be brushed aside or ignored I feel that this book should be widely read for those who wish to better understand and come alongside immigrants It has definitely given me much to think about and I have reconsidered many of my previous biases and prejudices some that I didn t even realize I had I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book Thank you to Celadon Books for providing the advance copy All opinions are my own


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Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares Here We Are Is A Heart Wrenching Memoir About An Immigrant Family S American Dream, The Justice System That Took It Away, And The Daughter Who Fought To Get It Back, From NPR Correspondent Aarti Namdev ShahaniThe Shahanis Came To Queens From India, By Way Of Casablanca In The S They Were Undocumented For A Few Unsteady Years And Then, With The Arrival Of Their Green Cards, They Thought They D Made It This Is The Story Of How They Did, And Didn T The Unforeseen Obstacles That Propelled Them Into Years Of Disillusionment And Heartbreak And The Strength Of A Family Determined To Stay Together Here We Are American Dreams, American Nightmares Follows The Lives Of Aarti, The Precocious Scholarship Kid At One Of Manhattan S Most Elite Prep Schools, And Her Dad, The Shopkeeper Who Mistakenly Sells Watches And Calculators To The Notorious Cali Drug Cartel Together, The Two Represent The Extremes That Coexist In Our Country, Even Within A Single Family, And A Truth About Immigrants That Gets Lost In The Headlines It Isn T A Matter Of Good Or Evil It S ComplicatedUltimately, Here We Are Is A Coming Of Age Story, A Love Letter From An Outspoken Modern Daughter To Her Soft Spoken Old World Father She Never Expected They D Become Best Friends