Someone Like Us

Knopf. Jul. 2024. 272p. ISBN 9780385350006. $28. F
Mamush, the American-born son of Ethiopian immigrants who now lives in Paris with his wife and son, arrives at his mother’s house in Washington, DC, to find that Samuel, a close family friend, has died. Mamush knows that Samuel was actually his father, although nobody acknowledges it, and he decides to fly to Chicago, hoping to discover the reason for Samuel’s past incarceration. Told in Mamush’s voice, the novel moves back and forth through time chronicling his childhood, his mother’s strength, and his close relationship with Samuel, who became a taxi driver in DC. The book presses on Mamush’s mother’s refusal to shed much light on her past and on Samuel’s summation of his experiences as a refugee, concluding that moving to the States was actually an end, rather than a beginning.
VERDICT Award-winning Mengestu (All Our Names) expertly portrays the lives of immigrants who are never totally accepted in their adopted country and their American-born children who must straddle both worlds.
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