AMERICANIZED: REBEL WITHOUT A GREEN CARD, by Sara Saedi, Knopf Books for Young Readers, Feb. 6, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adults)
For hundreds of years, people have come to America looking for a better, safer life, but for many — especially in more recent years — their path here has been anything but easy. Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card tells one such story.
When Sara Saedi was 2 years old, her parents fled Iran. The year was 1982, and Sara’s mom brought Sara and her older sister, Samira, to the United States on visitor’s visas. Three months later, Sara’s father joined them in the Bay Area.
Once their visas expired, the Saedi family applied for political asylum. Two years later, there was no progress and no record of their application. What followed was a series of attempts to become American citizens. The whole process would end up taking 18 years before all the Saedis became legal residents.
At the age of 13, however, Sara knew nothing of her undocumented status. That knowledge didn’t come until Samira wanted to apply for an after-school job, but couldn’t because she didn’t have a Social Security number. This revelation came as shock to Sara, and changed how she looked at everything.
No matter what Sara did, there was always a fear of deportation hanging over her. That didn’t keep her from trying to live as normal life as possible, though. She was, after all, as close to an American teenager as one can be without being legal.
Americanized tells Sara’s story, which is fascinating. Stories range from her battle with acne and learning how to tame her unibrow to discovering that her parents secretly divorced to facilitate her mother’s green card application. Throughout it all, Sara maintains a sense of humor.
Americanized is a fast and compelling look at the legalization process through a teenager’s eyes. It’s a timely reminder that children often have no say in the decisions their parents make, but have to pay the consequences for their parent’s actions nonetheless.
I don’t know that Americanized will change anyone’s feelings on immigration, but it’s a worthwhile read for those looking for broader understanding on the subject.
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