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Think “Out of Bounds”– Win a Free Arlington Reads Featured Title

Arlington Reads 2013: “Out of Bounds: The Immigrant Experience”

Arlington Reads 2013

This April, Arlington Public Library will welcome two of the most heralded young novelists today:

Admission is free to both the Mengestu and the Díaz events. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Share Your Favorite “Out of Bounds” Story for the Chance to Win a Book

UPDATE MARCH 25: We’ve received some great suggested titles on immigration so we’re going to keep the comments section below open for more recommendations and give away a second batch of books beginning April 3.

To celebrate the authors of Arlington Reads 2013, we want to hear about your favorite books (and their authors) that capture the experience of coming to America (or another nation) and adjusting to a very new way of life.  

Explain your reasons with a few insightful sentences in the comments section of this post and you could win a copy of one of the Arlington Reads 2013 featured titles: either Mengestu’s The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears or Díaz ’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

The first batch of winners will be notified by email by March 25.  Those books will be available for pickup at the Reference Desk on the second floor of Central Library at 1015 North Quincy Street from March 26 through April 5.

We apologize for any inconvenience but because of logistical issues and costs, we can only distribute the books in a timely fashion this way.  One book per family or group.


Arlington Reads is made possible through the generous support of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library.  


Comments (16)

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  1. Lyle Kent says:

    Kind of obvious but Alex Haley’s Roots is still a monumental look at the African American experience. The book was great and the TV series is still valuable.

  2. Jennifer says:

    My favorite books that capture the experience of coming to America and adjusting to life as newfound immigrants are Laurence Yep’s Golden Gate Chronicles, especially Dragonwings and Child of the Owl. Although they are historical fiction, I really connected to them on a personal level when I read them as a child. They provided a glimpse of the cultural conflicts that arise and I was able to better understand what my parents have gone through, who are immigrants themselves.

  3. Lisa Harkins says:

    A memorable read for me was Digging To America by Anne Tyler. It is the story of two girls adopted from Korea who are raised by two very different families, the Donaldsons, an American couple and the Yazdans, an Iranian-American couple. I loved this book for its interesting characters and for its theme of what it means to fit in, to belong and to be an American. As a first generation Filipino-American, this theme definitely resonates with me. Another memorable book is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, the story of the Ganguli family who immigrate from Calcutta to Cambridge. Gogol, the son struggles in his identity as a first generation immigrant. I loved this book for its themes of parental expectations and how we define who we are. Lahiri is one of my all time favorite authors. Her writing is simply beautiful.

  4. Joan Britt says:

    I’ve read several excellent books that capture different aspects of the immigrant experience including “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “Brother, I’m Dying” by Edwidge Danticat, “Digging to America” by Anne Tyler, “From Every End of this Earth” by Steven Roberts, and “When I was Puerto Rican” by Esmeralda Santiago.

    “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave is the one I read most recently. A refugee from Nigeria escapes to England. A well-written riveting story that is hard to out down, it deals with important issues such as refugees and illegal immigrants. I found it very interesting to see how our world looks to an outsider.

  5. Brian says:

    One of my favorite books is “I Love Yous Are For White People” by Lac Su. It describes the hardships of leaving Vietnam during a time of war and growing up and adjusting to ghetto, crime-ridden western Los Angeles. The book thoroughly reflects on living through poverty, an abusive father, gang involvement, and the ability to establish a bright future with bleak odds. I could better understand my parents’ experiences to the culture shock that Su struggled through as well. Su’s writing was very authentic and he did not attempt to sugar-coat any moment of it.

  6. Amanda says:

    I second Joan’s mention of “Little Bee” and “Digging to America”. “Little Bee” is horribly sad, though — be prepared!

  7. Krystal L. Ramirez says:

    Two wonderful books come to mind. The first is My Antonia by Willa Cather. I love that the reader gets to meet the Shimerdas (a Bohemian immigrant family) from Jim Burden’s nostalgic perspective, not to mention that the Nebraska prairie is a beautiful setting. You really get a true depiction of the homesickness, language barriers, and cultural and religious differences that immigrants have to face. The second is The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. The reader experiences the fascinating dynamic between immigrant parents (in this case, Chinese mothers) and their American-born children (in this case specifically, daughters). As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, I can relate to the characters’ anxiety about reconciling their heritage with their new American culture. Thanks to APL for celebrating immigrant literature :)

  8. Lisbeth says:

    I just finished the library’s ebook, “My Beloved World,” a memoir by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The book is an account of a young girl of Puerto Rican heritage who overcomes poverty & also family, medical & cultural challenges to become 1st Latina justice of the Supreme Court. Influenced by the Perry Mason TV show, Sonia’s goal was to grow up to be a lawyer. The story of how she overcame the odds in order to achieve the fulfillment of her dreams makes for a great memoir.
    Now, I’m on the wait list for a library copy of “Rita Moreno: A Memoir,” about the talented Puerto Rican actress who starred in the film, “West Side Story.”

  9. april says:

    The Good Indian Wife by Anne Cherian.

  10. Marian Graham says:

    My favorite book is “Strength in what Remains” by Tracy Kidder, because my students love it. Kidder tells the story of a young Burundian medical student who escaped the Rwandan genocide and landed at JFK with $200 in his pocket. I teach ESL and my students, most of whom are from Africa (80%), identify with the main character’s struggle to gain a foothold and find his place in the U.S. My students have also helped me understand Deo’s (the main character’s) thinking, and the book, much better.

  11. Abbe says:

    Cutting for Stone is the most recent favorite that I have read with this theme.

  12. Sheryl says:

    It’s an oldie, but I still thinking fondly of Anya Yezierska’s “Bread Givers,” a book about a young Jewish immigrant woman trying to figure out how she fits in as an American. Sara’s life is juxtaposed against the lives of her sisters, which makes it a fascinating, unintentionally feminist work.

    • Sheryl says:

      The book particularly resounded with me, as my grandmother and her siblings were about the same ages as the protagonists at the time of the book’s writing. Remembering my grandmother’s stories of her life as part of an immigrant family in the lower East Side of NYC, I felt this work was stunningly true-to-life.

  13. Mehvish says:

    As a first generation American, I know firsthand what it is like for people to come to a new country to search for a better life and I now write about my own experiences as a child of immigrants parents. I love to hear about others from this immigrant generation. One of my favorite books, that made me feel less alone and singled out, was The Outsiders – an American book about community, family, social class differences, and the similarities we all have as human beings. Not about immigrants exactly, but it definitely reflects some of their feelings.

  14. Susan says:

    Shanghai Girls by Lisa See is the story of two young Chinese women coming to LA to marry Chinese men chosen for them. Among the many layers of the book, my favorite is that we get to see America–with all its glory and many flaws–through the eyes of these two women.

  15. Rebecca says:

    I just finished Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. This is the story of a young African American woman who moves from a rural town Georgia to Philadelphia during the Great Migration.

    Hattie’s first moments outside the train station in Philadelphia:

    “Hattie looked more closely at the crowd on the sidewalk. The Negroes did not step into the gutters to let the whites pass and they did not stare doggedly at their own feet. Four Negro girls walked by, teenagers like Hattie, chatting to one another. Just girls in conversation, giggling and easy, the way only white girls walked and talked in the city streets of Georgia. Hattie leaned forward to watch their progress down the block. At last, her mother and sisters exited the station and came to stand next to her. ‘Mama,’ Hattie said, ‘I’ll never go back. Never.’”

    Although Hattie emigrates from one part of the United States to another, in the early twentieth century the South and the North are so different in terms of culture and opportunities for African Americans that they might as well be different countries.

    Hattie’s story is an intensely personal portrait of a mother, told through the stories of her children. Through their lives, we also come to understand a little of the times they lived in.