No two immigrant stories are the same, even if they reflect common experiences. Though fiction, these works offer a valuable, varied glimpse into what life is like in America for immigrants and their families. Their stories are affecting, exciting, adventurous, and reveal to the reader vital truths about the human experience.
You can enjoy them as ebooks or audiobooks on Overdrive/Libby.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The story of two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK, raising universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for identity and a home.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
A story about immigrants from Latin America revolving around two families, the Riveras and the Toros. Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America.
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago. Traces the extraordinary lives of these women, from their arduous journeys by boat, to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; from their experiences raising children who would later reject their culture and language, to the deracinating arrival of war.
Call Me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin
The inspirational tale of a boy in war torn Africa (Somalia) who fell in love with America through movies and escaped his country’s turmoil to move here—a story of remarkable courage, determination, and triumph.
Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Set in 1978, it tells the coming-of-age story of an eight-year old Indian boy named Ajay Mishra living with his recently immigrated family in New York City. The story develops around his older brother Birju, who suffers a life-changing accident, and how the family copes with the incident
A Free Life by Ha Jin & Jaeson Ma-Audiobook
We follow the Wu family–father Nan, mother Pingping, and son Taotao–as they fully sever their ties with China in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and begin a new, free life in the United States.
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil
In 1994, Clemantine and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years wandering through seven African countries, searching for safety–perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted asylum in the United States, where she embarked on another journey–to excavate her past and, after years of being made to feel less than human, claim her individuality.
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
The García sisters—Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofía—and their family must flee their home in the Dominican Republic after their father’s role in an attempt to overthrow brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo is discovered. They arrived in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Caribbean. In the wondrous but not always welcoming U.S.A., their parents try to hold on to their old ways as the girls try to find new lives: by straightening their hair and wearing American fashions, and by forgetting their Spanish.
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children—each in their own way—tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.
-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian