September 13, 2016

My (Underground) American Dream: A 5 Star Review

My (Underground) American Dream / Entre las sombras del Sueño Americano
by Julissa Arce

I went into this book with very high expectations after reading the back cover blurb. I was hoping this book would shed some new light on the plight of immigrants in the United States and it did. This book met every expectation I had and many more. Arce's writing was so open and honest and flowed well as she told about her entire life from childhood to adulthood and from undocumented to US Citizen.

Arce's story isn't as poverty stricken as many stories you will find about undocumented immigrants that come to the United States but financial status isn't really what it is all about and this book proves that. I really appreciated Arce's insight into why her family did things the way they did and why they chose to move her to the United States when she was 11. I was so glad she shared from her heart what it was like to come to the United States as a child and have to start school not really knowing hardly any English. I loved the following passage from the book. I wish more people viewed speaking a language other than English as a blessing not a fault.

"There was and still is a stigma that if you don't speak English it means you aren't smart. This couldn't be further from the truth, of course, but perception is everything. Somehow ESL means "remedial" to a lot of people, when it should just mean "I speak one more language than you do."

Another part of this book that was especially well done was the constant inclusion of the Mexican culture in Arce's life along with her assimilation into the life in San Antonio. I loved the stories of her favorite moments as a youth in San Antonio. It was especially neat to read about her upbringing and know that it wasn't all perfect but she still had many good childhood memories. I also loved that many of her struggles in school were similar to mine and I'm sure many other people's of wanting to be included and liked.

Her family wasn't perfect but they worked hard to support each other. I think I can learn a lot from how the Hispanic culture bands together to support family no matter what it takes. I also loved how supportive and protective she was of her little brother and how he often returned the favors. Being bilingual myself I have always loved the Hispanic culture. Family is so different in Latin America. So close and so important.

So many aspects of Arce's story are things that I took for granted. Reading about her plight to simply get into a college reminds me that I never should have taken my opportunity for an education for granted. She did an excellent job sharing the fears she lived with day in and day out in this book without making it a pity party but instead an opportunity to educate readers about what immigrants go through to simply get into a school and get a job.

There were also so many reminders in this book about what is important in life. Arce took care to present herself well in her career but did not waste money on overly frivolous things. I really liked that about her. I loved how she was always supporting charities and her church, sending money to her family, and also starting scholarship funds for undocumented immigrants so they too could go to school. I appreciate the fact that she needed her 6-figure Wall Street job to do these things but I loved that she didn't flaunt her success.

I hope that reading this book will help people in the United States learn more about the plight of immigrants and also bring awareness to the need for immigration reform and also scholarships and grants for undocumented immigrants trying to attend college. I was so thankful that Arce tackled these difficult topics in her book and I hope it helps people view immigrants differently in the aspects of education, jobs, welfare, and taxes because of the truths she exposes in this book.

También esta disponible en español
 I'll leave you with one other favorite quote from this book. I highlighted far more than two passages but the one I already quoted and this one struck me as the most important to share with review readers.

"Immigrants do not come to the United States to take anything away from Americans. We come to America to give our sweat, blood, and tears to pursue our dreams." 
I received an electronic advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review which I have provided here.

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