“Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card” by Sara Saedi
Publishing Date: February 6, 2018
Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir
Page Length: 288 pages (electronic review copy)
At thirteen, bright-eyed, straight-A student Sara Saedi uncovered a terrible family secret: she was breaking the law simply by living in the United States. Only two years old when her parents fled Iran, she didn’t learn of her undocumented status until her older sister wanted to apply for an after-school job, but couldn’t because she didn’t have a Social Security number.
Fear of deportation kept Sara up at night, but it didn’t keep her from being a teenager. She desperately wanted a green card, along with clear skin, her own car, and a boyfriend.
Americanized follows Sara’s progress toward getting her green card, but that’s only a portion of her experiences as an Iranian-“American” teenager. From discovering that her parents secretly divorced to facilitate her mother’s green card application to learning how to tame her unibrow, Sara pivots gracefully from the terrifying prospect that she might be kicked out of the country at any time to the almost-as-terrifying possibility that she might be the only one of her friends without a date to the prom. This moving, often hilarious story is for anyone who has ever shared either fear. (description from Goodreads)
Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card is a memoir that reads like a diary. The author talks to her readers in a casual tone and does a good job at explaining history points and her cultures traditions. There are footnotes placed throughout the book, for additional info about Iranian history, Persian culture, and more at the end of each chapter. It gives readers lots of background for those who might be unfamiliar with these topics.
The book has an easygoing tone for the most part while tackling heavy issues and sentimental stories of her family. Often Saedi includes lots of photos for context, giving the book that personal touch while connecting with her readers. A journal entry from her old diary precedes each new chapter as well as within the text. While relishing in her culture, she also pokes fun at stereotypes at it too. It gave the memoir a comedic aspect on top of the awkward, embarrassing stories of her youth. While I did like the tone of the narrative I felt the overall writing style was a bit lackadaisical which sometimes took away from the book. It reads like diary more than a memoir in the beginning, but this improves as the book goes on.
While I’ve read many fiction stories about immigration, this was my first non-fiction read. Reading the book through Sara’s eyes made everything feel real and more personal like when she talks about the sacrifices her parents made for her and her siblings:
“My focus on school was a side effect of battling stage-four ICGC, also known as immigrant child guilt complex. This is a chronic disorder that affects only children of immigrants, who experience a constant gnawing guilt for the multitude of sacrifices their parents made to bring them to the United States.”
It was touching to read all her stories and the evident love she has for family. I was especially touched by the close bonds with her siblings at which she makes a point in the later chapters to tell her readers to cherish them dearly. I also liked that she added commentary on relevant issues within her stories. Throughout the book she talks about immigration policy, DACA, and other issues happening within the government.
This book made me heavily reflect on immigration. I couldn’t imagine going through some of the things Sara explained. It also helped me learn more about how the system works and the process of becoming an US citizen. While it was an entertaining memoir, Sara’s story was also informative and eye-opening.
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.