Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares by Aarti Namdev Shahani

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a free copy of the book.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Here We Are is a heart-wrenching memoir about an immigrant family’s American Dream, the justice system that took it away, and the daughter who fought to get it back, from NPR correspondent Aarti Namdev Shahani.

The Shahanis came to Queens—from India, by way of Casablanca—in the 1980s. They were undocumented for a few unsteady years and then, with the arrival of their green cards, they thought they’d made it. This is the story of how they did, and didn’t; the unforeseen obstacles that propelled them into years of disillusionment and heartbreak; and the strength of a family determined to stay together.

Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares follows the lives of Aarti, the precocious scholarship kid at one of Manhattan’s most elite prep schools, and her dad, the shopkeeper who mistakenly sells watches and calculators to the notorious Cali drug cartel. Together, the two represent the extremes that coexist in our country, even within a single family, and a truth about immigrants that gets lost in the headlines. It isn’t a matter of good or evil; it’s complicated.

Ultimately, Here We Are is a coming-of-age story, a love letter from an outspoken modern daughter to her soft-spoken Old World father. She never expected they’d become best friends. 


This book is the epitome of why I love memoirs.It’s emotional, honest, eye-opening, and engaging. And while I believe it’s a worthwhile read at any time, it’s especially timely considering current issues in the news.

I was blown away by her words and her family’s story, and feel incredibly inadequate when it comes to “reviewing” Shahani’s book. Because how do you critique someone’s existence and reality? And while this may only be one family’s experience immigrating to the United States and making their way in this country, I think it’s so important to read. Becoming aware of and understanding others’ experiences are what make us more empathetic people.

If you like memoirs, read this book. If you like to learn about the lives of others, read this book. If you want to read a book that’s going to get you right in the feels, please read this book.

Highly recommend. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Author stats: Twitter

Book stats: Hardcover, 256 pages, Celadon Books, October 1, 2019

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