Refugee High: Coming of Age in America

New Pr. Aug. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9781620975084. $25.99. ED
n Chicago’s far north side community of Rogers Park, Sullivan High School has welcomed immigrant and refugee students for decades. Currently, 70 percent of the student body speak a second language; 40 languages and 50 countries are represented. Expanding on her Chicago magazine article “Welcome to Refugee High,” Fishman (journalism, Univ. of Wisconsin–Milwaukee) explores the challenges facing students, teachers, administrators, and parents in 2017–18, as the Trump administration ramped up anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies. The author adopts a “fly on the wall” approach, sharing the voices of students such as Mariah, a freshman who left Basra, Iraq, at 10; Alejandro, a Guatemalan senior seeking asylum; Belenge, a Congolese sophomore born in a refugee camp in Kigoma, Tanzania; and Shahina, a sophomore from Myanmar. The students shed light on the collision between their cultures and their lives in America. Students and families confront the threat of deportation, gun violence, arranged marriages, poverty, alienation, and alcohol addiction. The book also describes how Sullivan’s administrators and teachers devote themselves to overcoming daily demands and crises.
VERDICT Educators and general readers alike will find this vividly intimate work insightful.
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