Becoming American : Personal Essays by First Generation Immigrant Women

Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

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Hardcover (224 pages)



Editorial Description

This collection of original essays, the first of its sort, written by first generation women immigrants, offers a glimpse into the process of assimilation. Edited and with an introduction by a noted young Ghanaian-American author, this book includes selections by widely acclaimed authors such as Lucy Grealy, and Judith Ortiz-Cofer, alongside the works of other writers.

Reader Reviews

An Insightful View of Immigrant Experience
This book is a wonderful insight into the lives of first-generation immigrants. Being a first-generation immigrant myself, I found myself identifying with a lot of emotions and confusions of adjusting to the American beat. Because most of my immigrant friends come from the same culture as me, it was interesting to see how my experience differs from immigrants from other countries.

The range of countries represented is diverse, although there is a definite emphasis on Latino experience and several essays by Irish immigrants. The fact that the authors of the essays are all writers of various success does not make for a very representative sample, however, although that was probably not the book's intent. The writing is a bit uneven and in some essays quite forced. I guess it's hard to write about one's personal experiences and emotions without sounding cheesy, and few of the writers in this anthology overcome this problem. But this is of course the matter of personal taste.

All in all, the book makes for a pleasant and interesting read, although after reading this book, I will also look for a book that captures a more diverse experience, perhaps written in form of profiles rather than personal essays, a style I found less probing than profiles written by an outsider.

When do we know we're American?
At first I was a bit put off by how everywoman sounded as if she were whining at the loss of something she'd never had, as if her coming to America was by default(most had arrived as children), rather than a delirious desire, as it had been for me in my 20s. Still, I read on, fascinated by each woman's unique story - until I hit the motherlode in their essays where they began to spin their broken straws into the golden fiber of their new lives.

Curious & remarkable what women from the East & from Africa thought important & what women from the Old World thought vital to their welfare. Some women ached in exactly the same way I had - wanting so much to be the daughter of which our mothers would have been proud.

Do not look for patriotism in these pages - that sort of thing doesn't matter to women nearly as much as which identity we will be expected to wear in which place in our lives: our families' homes & churches; our schools & our parents' relatives from the Old Country.

Becoming American is an absorbing, serious tea party where 24 women who started in every corner of the world have come to adulthood in America &, under Meri Nana-Ama Danquah's able editorship, have shared their stories.

What of our past must we relinquish & what of America need we assimilate?

Well worth the read! Made me do a lot of thinking, & writing too!

Heart-touching first generation immigrant women
This book tought me the strenght of each of the women that immigrated to the United States for a better future. It is interesting to learn that these women had a new start, which meant that they would have to adapt to this new country facing many obstacles. One is given the personal experiences from women around the world.

Beautifully Written
I never would have imagined the plight of the imigrant woman had it not been for this book.Nina's story, among other women were compelling.
I would strongly recommend this book it is not only informative, but also emotionally engaging, and gives a good discription on the issues immigrant women face with here in the United States, mainly discrimination.