Americanized
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.

Americanized Details

TitleAmericanized
Author
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherKnopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-139781524717797
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir

Americanized Review

  • Erin ღYour YA Readerღ
    January 1, 1970
    🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪5 CookiesMy YA Blog!I was giving this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honestly reviewFirst off. This book was amazing. I honestly should end it at that and call it a day but... I won't allow myself! This book is the first ARC I have rated 5 full cookies. That is saying something! I was in absolute love from page one.This book is about one teen's experience growing up in America without a green card. I wanted to start with the overall book first then work my way into the characters. S 🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪5 CookiesMy YA Blog!I was giving this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honestly reviewFirst off. This book was amazing. I honestly should end it at that and call it a day but... I won't allow myself! This book is the first ARC I have rated 5 full cookies. That is saying something! I was in absolute love from page one.This book is about one teen's experience growing up in America without a green card. I wanted to start with the overall book first then work my way into the characters. So here goes: This overall story was incredible. (I still don't understand some of the bad reviews! This book was flawless.) I usually don't go for this genre of books but I'm really glad I did. It was hilarious. I was able to relate to some of the things she went through as a teenager. This book also was sad. The things this family went through was extreamly sad. But they were an awesome family together. (I'll get into this later!) I really like the way she put in little history tid bits. This was important to me because I really wanted to learn more on this issue specifically. So I give these books two thumbs up. (I would give it more if I actually had more thumbs...)Now let's address the characters. All the characters that Sarah used in this book are real, and they did influence her life. Now I'm not going to anylyze these characters like in a fiction novel because of this. Now! My favorite character in this book is... Well I technically should say characters but whatever. The family! Why you ask? This family loved each other so much. The parents gave up everything, just so that their children grew up living in America in freedom. There love for their children in this book was apparent. It's really how they showed their love that made my heart melt. This sister relationship was GOALSS!?? Am I right! Loved this relationship as well... Ok. I really liked every single relashinship that involved family and there are too many so I'm just going to leave it as that.Gosh. Well I think I hit all the points I needed to hit. So that's going to be the end of this review but I cannot stress enough of how much I really love this book. I would totally reccommend this book and everyone should read it!
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  • ❇Critterbee
    January 1, 1970
    Americanized is the memoir of a young girl brought to the United States for safety and freedom when she was two years old, and her experiences growing up 'undocumented.' The trials of teenage years and her fear of being deported to a land she does not remember are honestly and humorously expressed. An addictive read, fun and serious at the same time. Recommended.*eARC Netgalley*
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  • Bookphile
    January 1, 1970
    I have mixed feelings about this. I could relate to a lot of it because I was also a teenager in the 90s, so a lot of what Saedi writes about resonates with my own experience, but this wasn't quite what I expected it to be. Since this is a memoir, I'm not sure that a spoiler warning makes sense, but I will talk at some length about this book's specifics.I think one of my main problems with this book is that it feels awkward at times. I could feel Saedi reaching from the page and wanting to grab I have mixed feelings about this. I could relate to a lot of it because I was also a teenager in the 90s, so a lot of what Saedi writes about resonates with my own experience, but this wasn't quite what I expected it to be. Since this is a memoir, I'm not sure that a spoiler warning makes sense, but I will talk at some length about this book's specifics.I think one of my main problems with this book is that it feels awkward at times. I could feel Saedi reaching from the page and wanting to grab me or her presumed teen audience by using colloquialisms or coming across as irreverent, but those parts felt stilted to me. I didn't see the need to try so hard when there were elements of her story that could more than stand on their own two legs. I wish she would have trusted that rather than practically grabbing her readers by the collar and shouting, "See? I can relate to the kids of today!"Another thing I didn't much like was how heavy-handed this book felt at times, which is awkward for me to say. Since I'm not a PoC, I'm not comfortable evaluating a book by a PoC on those grounds, but I think that element tries into the whole trying too hard bit. I didn't need Saedi to outright say, "While regular teenagers were doing x, I had to worry because I was an illegal immigrant." I could already feel the difficulty there. I think what I didn't like about her sometimes overt approach was that it pulled me out of the narrative, which didn't work for me because when I was immersed in the narrative I was walking in Saedi's shoes and feeling plenty sympathetic for her plight.I have to admit, the casual references to pot in this book also gave me pause, since the science about the effect of pot on teen brains isn't very solid but does indicate some areas for concern. On the one hand, I did think it was valuable that Saedi didn't try to "clean" things up for her readers, and that she was upfront about things like recreational drug use, drinking, and sex, but I also wish there'd been some more nuance here. I mean, she casually mentions family members getting her drunk when she was only 13 and I...just wasn't okay with that.Now, that aside, there are also some very strong aspects to this book that I very much admired. As I said, when I was walking in Saedi's shoes, I felt a great deal of empathy for her and her family. There's a section in the book where she talks about a blow up she had with her parents that was born of frustration on both sides with the immigration process. Saedi does a nice job of showing how the stress was affecting her differently from her parents and how that resulted in a big misunderstanding that ended up in her gaining insight into her parents. I mean, what teen doesn't fail to recognize their own parents as human beings from time to time? Yet as strong as this passage was, I was a little confused by it as well because she mentions a screaming fight yet no fight takes place. Instead, she's describing the aftermath. I'm not saying I needed to see the fight on the page, I just found the narrative setup confusing. Why not just say that she had a fight with her parents that made her see things from a different point of view, rather than making it sound like the chapter was going to be about that fight?Equally strong were the sections exploring her family background, especially with regard to her grandparents. Saedi interrogates her grandmother's life, showing her unconventional a woman her grandmother was, and exploring its impact on the way it shaped her family on down the line. There's probably a whole book there, in just that story alone. Saedi also talks candidly about how sorry she is that she didn't try to find more common ground with her grandmother while she was still alive, and I think this is a valuable lesson for people of all ages. Our family members are living examples of both our family and cultural histories, and I share some of Saedi's regret at not having appreciated that in my own life when I still had the option.The book lost me when it delved a lot into Saedi's typical teen angst, even though I found myself in a lot of those passages as well. I think those sections might resonate more with young people who are in the midst of the same dramas, but they didn't work as well for me, who has the benefit of decades of hindsight with regard to those particular episodes. In the end, this book ended up being a mixed bag for me. I'd been really drawn in to certain chapters, invested in Saedi's family background and their plight as immigrants, and then get to a chapter where she'd talk at length about her teenage romance problems, which would make me lose interest. Like I said, I don't fault the book for this because I do think those sections would resonate more with teenagers, who would see that even as Saedi was dealing with her family's precarious situation, she still had to deal with the same stuff every teenager does. Since this book isn't targeted at people my age, I think it's good those parts have been woven into the book. But to me the really strong parts are when Saedi sits back and lets her story take precedence without trying to be quippy about it, and I think if the whole book had been like that, it would have been stronger.
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  • Rachael
    January 1, 1970
    Now I have no idea if anyone else does this, but whenever I’m reading an amazing book, I daydream about what I’m going to say in my review. I daydream about quotes I’m going to put in, the jokes that will totally wow all my friends and followers, and what books I will slyly promo at the end in my recommendations section (why? Because I’m a giant nerd).This was so close to being one of those books.In fact, it was one of those awesome, daydream-worthy books at first, and I was so happy about it, b Now I have no idea if anyone else does this, but whenever I’m reading an amazing book, I daydream about what I’m going to say in my review. I daydream about quotes I’m going to put in, the jokes that will totally wow all my friends and followers, and what books I will slyly promo at the end in my recommendations section (why? Because I’m a giant nerd).This was so close to being one of those books.In fact, it was one of those awesome, daydream-worthy books at first, and I was so happy about it, but after the first thirty percent there was a huge drop in quality. At the beginning, I was looking at all the reviews that gave this a mediocre rating and thinking “wtf are they thinking?? this is so good?” and now here I am, one of them. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The worst part is, there were so many good aspects that it makes me frustrated that the poor aspects eventually won and got me to DNF. So lame. The writing style was very nonfiction-y and easy to follow, and a lot of the humor was clever and made me laugh (but some of it?? we’ll get to that later). I wish so bad that I was allowed to put quotes from the book in my review before the release date, because I was highlighting so many jokes that some pages were literally 100% marked. They well-portrayed the struggles of a middle-schooler and high-schooler, along with all the drama that happens during those years. Another thing I really enjoyed was the family dynamic between Sara, her siblings, and her parents. Her family all has such a loving and open relationship with each other, and they all love and trust one another to such an extent that I was just sitting there like Her parents are the type of parent I want to be one day, and even her extended family all stood out to me as loving. This book also threw some major shade towards America’s treatment and involvement in Iran and the Middle East, as well as towards the Trump administration and honestly I would have been happy if the entire book was the author telling us about Iran’s history. It would have been five stars, easily. However, some of the stuff it says about present-day America could cause for the book to become very dated very fast, which might be something to watch out for.A part that was kind of annoying for me was the way the book was set up. The novel would oftentimes get near to Sara’s adulthood, but then would jump back to sixth or seventh and talk about a different part of her life. This is something that a lot of memoirs do, and it never really works for me, but I know it’s fine for most readers and so I dealt with it. However, what stood out to me, and eventually made me DNF about halfway through, was the anti-East Asian and anti-black racism.(Disclaimer before I go into it: I’m white. All my thoughts are coming from a white perspective. I haven’t seen any OwnVoices reviews from either of those demographics, but once some start appearing I will link them in my review.) When I first started the book I thought that casual racism, which is so prevalent in a lot of memoirs today (usually in the form of “comedy”), wouldn’t be an issue because the memoir is about a POC, but nope. I highlighted a few passages, but there were three that stood out to me that made me especially uncomfortable.In one, Sara is mourning about her Iranian nose, and lamenting about how Persian girls at her high school never get boyfriends. The narration then proceeds to note that one minority that was a “desirable exotic race” was Asians. That’s gross. A) over a billion people live in East Asia, B) even if East Asia was a world minority, calling them “exotic” is fetish-y and racist. Not today, Satan.This book does an awesome job at addressing and taking down stereotypes against Middle-Eastern parents and Iranian men, but,,, it uses a stereotype towards East Asian parents in a joke that isn’t challenged (since I can’t include quotes in my review, for other readers who are wondering where it was, it’s the comment in Chapter 7 at location 1172 in the NetGalley Kindle version). And honestly I am just so tired of memoirs including “laid-back” racism that I was like nah,,, I’m done. The anti-black racism that occurred was when the N-word is used (albeit in a quote – still not okay though) and it isn’t censored. It should either be censored, or the book just shouldn’t use the quote at all, especially since the quote used is meant to empower black women and Sara isn’t black.To conclude, if a few things were changed before the finished copy is published, this would be such a warm-hearted and wonderful memoir that I would cherish forever alongside literally the only other comedy memoir I like, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?. Instead, it’s being added to my ever-growing shelf of memoirs that are supposed to be funny but rely on offensiveness to do so. Boo.I was provided an eARC copy by NetGalley in exchange for a complete and honest review. All opinions are taken from an uncorrected proof.--Pre-Review:my new year's resolution was to stop reading books I don't want to read anymore,,, so,,,,full rtc (also rating to come?? maybe?? we'll see)
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  • Jen Naughton
    January 1, 1970
    Sara takes portions of her actual diary and then fleshes them out over the chapters to narrate her life in the 90's as an illegal Iranian immigrant. Her story of being a first-generation American with parents who worked tirelessly to keep up with their new American lifestyle will appeal to teens who like the show My So-Called Life or who may even have parents or older sibs who grew up at that time. I loved all of the nonfiction info about Iran that helped to defeat some stereotypes. I didn't lik Sara takes portions of her actual diary and then fleshes them out over the chapters to narrate her life in the 90's as an illegal Iranian immigrant. Her story of being a first-generation American with parents who worked tirelessly to keep up with their new American lifestyle will appeal to teens who like the show My So-Called Life or who may even have parents or older sibs who grew up at that time. I loved all of the nonfiction info about Iran that helped to defeat some stereotypes. I didn't like the regular teen angst parts, but- I think for sheltered teens it is important to note that all cultures go through awkward angry times and that in that way as so many others we humans are all alike. The back story of each of her grandparents was interesting, as was her struggle to get a green card. I know from my in-law's experience that getting a green card has never been "easy".Verdict- Borrow
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  • Kayo
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to like this more. It dragged on and wasn't that interesting. Liked the premise, but just wasn't a good read for me.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who is very interested in the effect of the Iranian revolution and Persian culture in general, I truly thought I would enjoy this more. I have read several other accounts of people who have fled Iran for America. However, parts of this memoir did not sit well with me and furthermore, it simply was not all that engaging.Sara Saedi's story chronicles her family's long and frustrating struggle to obtain green cards. The majority of the book centers around her teenage years. Much of tale As someone who is very interested in the effect of the Iranian revolution and Persian culture in general, I truly thought I would enjoy this more. I have read several other accounts of people who have fled Iran for America. However, parts of this memoir did not sit well with me and furthermore, it simply was not all that engaging.Sara Saedi's story chronicles her family's long and frustrating struggle to obtain green cards. The majority of the book centers around her teenage years. Much of tale is familiar; trying to fit in with her fellow high school classmates, appearance woes, unrequited love interests, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and an ambivalent attitude towards sex. At times she attempts to be funny and, more often than not, these attempts backfired. Although some of her cultural references made sense as they were of the nineties, the time of her adolescence, many of them were current and seemed juxtaposed to the past. Additionally, as I don't know Beyonce from Lady Gaga a fair number of them went over my head. Continuing a trend that seems popular these days, she frequently uses terms like "hashtag" and repeatedly points out the fact that things such as cell phones, the Internet, and Twitter were not around as though she was born before the discovery of electricity. Though she would now be in her late 30's her reminiscing still sounds very much like the voice of a teen.As for the topic of immigration, I completely agree that the system is highly flawed. It should not take people years to obtain green cards or citizenship. At the end of the book she pens an essay style chapter detailing her point of view. This segment was well articulated. While I think some of her beliefs are inaccurate and tied to faulty media reports, I support her sharing her thoughts and feelings. What I have a problem with is the digs and snide remarks sprinkled throughout the rest of the text. These came off as juvenile and self-pitying. Granted her family's ordeal was difficult, there's no denying that. But I easily came to that conclusion myself, it was not necessary to point it out over and over again.All in all, I am glad I read this book. I do think it is of value and might bring some enlightenment to the plight of hardworking, well-intentioned individuals who simply want the opportunity to thrive in a free country.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Informative and very engaging!An interesting and surprisingly humorous read, Sara Saedi's memoir tells of her family's immigration to the United States to escape the instability and Islamic fundamentalism of Iran and the difficulties growing up undocumented as they navigated the long and difficult path to legal residency and citizenship.Her memoir begins with a brief history of modern Iran in order to give context to her family's choice to emigrate, and is full of entertaining and touching stori Informative and very engaging!An interesting and surprisingly humorous read, Sara Saedi's memoir tells of her family's immigration to the United States to escape the instability and Islamic fundamentalism of Iran and the difficulties growing up undocumented as they navigated the long and difficult path to legal residency and citizenship.Her memoir begins with a brief history of modern Iran in order to give context to her family's choice to emigrate, and is full of entertaining and touching stories of her extended family and their histories, Iranian-American culture, and the trials and tribulations of navigating the difficult and drama-filled teen years with the added stress and pressures of being undocumented. We learn about arranged marriages, family scandals, surprisingly different religious beliefs, and see Sara endure typical teen problems like acne, unrequited crushes, body image, and first loves, all the while supported by a close and loving family.At first I was afraid this was going to be a dark and depressing story, but Sara's self-deprecating humor and wit made the story both entertaining and relatable, while still getting her point across. I appreciated the information on the history of Iran, as well as her advice to other undocumented immigrants and discussion of current immigration issues. Her description of her family's beliefs, values, and parenting style clearly illustrates how wrong stereotypes and assumptions about people based on one element (in this case country of origin) can be. I felt it might have been just a little bit long, as I felt my interest starting to waiver about 2/3 of the way through, but overall I found it well-written and more engaging that other memoirs I've read.I would recommend this for ages 15 & up, primarily due to descriptions of drug and alcohol use by teens and mentions of sex (non-graphic). This would be equally as appealing to adults, particularly those who grew up around the same time as the author.[I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.]
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    Copy provided by the publisherThis memoir chronicles the experiences of writer Saedi, who was born in Iran in 1980 and lived in the United States after the age of two. Her parents tried a variety of tactics to obtain legal residency, but has their papers requesting political asylum lost, and ran into difficulties with every application they turned in for over twenty years. This put both Sara and her older sister into a number of difficult situations with jobs, college, and their future in the U. Copy provided by the publisherThis memoir chronicles the experiences of writer Saedi, who was born in Iran in 1980 and lived in the United States after the age of two. Her parents tried a variety of tactics to obtain legal residency, but has their papers requesting political asylum lost, and ran into difficulties with every application they turned in for over twenty years. This put both Sara and her older sister into a number of difficult situations with jobs, college, and their future in the U.S., the only country they really knew. While this was clearly an important factor in Saedi's life, she also had a fairly normal 1990s adolescence, with the same obsessions over clothes, boys, and grunge bands that other teens at that time shared. Recounting these experiences is equal parts historical accounts and exploration of the problems faces many children of immigrants in the past and also today. Strengths: This is a timely #ownvoices account of immigration that will help readers to understand the challenges faced in the process becoming legal citizens of the US. The history of Iran will be interesting to readers who want more information about the country after reading It Ain't So Awful, Falafel. The details of teen life in the 1990s will appeal to readers who have read Jay Asher's The Future of Us or who are addicted to My So Called Life. I suppose there could be a few teens who parents were teens in the 1990s. Weaknesses: This might struggle to find an audience. I know that middle school students don't read memoirs much; perhaps the more mature content of this will appeal to older readers. What I really think: I would definitely buy this for a high school library, but will pass on purchase for middle school due to content and language.
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  • Kris Overtoom
    January 1, 1970
    My daughter, who volunteers at our library, picked up this advanced copy to give to me. This book is aimed at teenagers, but has nostalgia appeal to adults who were teenagers in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Ms. Saedi does a great job of portraying both Iranian culture and American culture in the 1990’s. To all this, she adds the tension and frustration involved in navigating the green card process, which takes over a decade to accomplish, with bureaucrats losing paperwork, keeping track of all of the My daughter, who volunteers at our library, picked up this advanced copy to give to me. This book is aimed at teenagers, but has nostalgia appeal to adults who were teenagers in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Ms. Saedi does a great job of portraying both Iranian culture and American culture in the 1990’s. To all this, she adds the tension and frustration involved in navigating the green card process, which takes over a decade to accomplish, with bureaucrats losing paperwork, keeping track of all of the paperwork involved, the contradictory advice, and the high expectations immigrants are held to while going through the process. Throughout the book, she has scattered answers to “frequently answered questions” regarding immigration and Iranian culture that add interest. And at the end' she includes a primer on immigration issues. The book is organized more on topic than on chronology as each chapter can span several years, but is not difficult to follow. She discusses her experiences with drugs and alcohol and there are several sexual references, which some parents would consider unsuitable for a child who has not reached junior high. I would encourage parents to read it as well as their children, because it can create some great discussions. I like her gentle sarcasm and her absolute honesty as an adult looking back at her teenager self. For adults, this is very light read. I read it quickly during a long car trip across half of America. I hope Ms. Saedi writes a second book for adults documenting her parent’s immigration journey in detail.
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