Dear America
Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, called “the most famous undocumented immigrant in America,” tackles one of the defining issues of our time in this explosive and deeply personal call to arms.“This is not a book about the politics of immigration. This book––at its core––is not about immigration at all. This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but in the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like myself find ourselves in. This book is about lying and being forced to lie to get by; about passing as an American and as a contributing citizen; about families, keeping them together, and having to make new ones when you can’t. This book is about constantly hiding from the government and, in the process, hiding from ourselves. This book is about what it means to not have a home.After 25 years of living illegally in a country that does not consider me one of its own, this book is the closest thing I have to freedom.”—Jose Antonio Vargas, from Dear America

Dear America Details

TitleDear America
Author
ReleaseSep 18th, 2018
PublisherDey Street Books
ISBN-139780062851369
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Politics, Social Movements, Social Justice, Biography

Dear America Review

  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    This book is at its best when it is an honest memoir, which is about 2/3rds of the book. He talks about the tensions in his Phillipino family between the "legal" and the "illegal" and then the shock when he finds out his greencard is fake. I wish people could understand when they talk about "illegals" that these are humans just like them. The later portion of the book was still good, but I wished he would stay with his own story as opposed to trying to respond to all his critics. Apparently, a l This book is at its best when it is an honest memoir, which is about 2/3rds of the book. He talks about the tensions in his Phillipino family between the "legal" and the "illegal" and then the shock when he finds out his greencard is fake. I wish people could understand when they talk about "illegals" that these are humans just like them. The later portion of the book was still good, but I wished he would stay with his own story as opposed to trying to respond to all his critics. Apparently, a lot of people from both sides of the immigration issue have criticized him for his advocacy. But let haters hate and tell your story. You don't need to tell everyone else's story. I, for one, will read anyone's story if it's honest.
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  • Charlene
    January 1, 1970
    Would recommend this book to everyone for insight into our current immigration crisis. Vargas's name was vaguely familiar to me as a journalist when I first saw notices about this book's upcoming publication. He "outed" himself as undocumented several years ago through a dramatic NYT article in 2011; he wrote a cover story on undocumented immigrants (including himself) in 2012. But book isn't about legalities or politics, it is Vargas's own story. His mother put him on a plane as a child to joi Would recommend this book to everyone for insight into our current immigration crisis. Vargas's name was vaguely familiar to me as a journalist when I first saw notices about this book's upcoming publication. He "outed" himself as undocumented several years ago through a dramatic NYT article in 2011; he wrote a cover story on undocumented immigrants (including himself) in 2012. But book isn't about legalities or politics, it is Vargas's own story. His mother put him on a plane as a child to join his grandparents (naturalized American citizens) in California & that's where he grew up. He did not realize until he applied for a driver's license that the paperwork provided by his grandfather was fake. He was able to confide in a few school teachers/administrators who helped him to college and from there he was able to launch a very successful career. But after entering the country without documentation, it seems there's no practical way to get back on a path to legal residency and citizenship (that's something I did not understand before ). After more than 2/3rds of his life in America, Vargas is still in a state of "homelessness", even though he considers America his country. Book short and personal but does a good job of conveying the confusion and misperceptions about the current immigration policies in this country.
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  • Brad Bowman
    January 1, 1970
    Utilizing his own experience, Vargas imbues discussions of displacement, residency, and identity with the utmost humanity. Most poignant are his reflections on his own belonging. “Trading a private life that was in limbo for a public life that is still in limbo...” (184) Vargas is most insightful when he’s looking inward and sharing his emotions of loss, losing, and being lost in his own American story.“Dear America” questions as much as it tries to answer, but importantly it’s a necessary narra Utilizing his own experience, Vargas imbues discussions of displacement, residency, and identity with the utmost humanity. Most poignant are his reflections on his own belonging. “Trading a private life that was in limbo for a public life that is still in limbo...” (184) Vargas is most insightful when he’s looking inward and sharing his emotions of loss, losing, and being lost in his own American story.“Dear America” questions as much as it tries to answer, but importantly it’s a necessary narrative that speaks to the dysphoria that is part of a larger immigrant experience. It’s a small portait of experience but one that fits into a larger, more contextual mosaic. These stories are imperative for rhetoric, statistics, and laws surrounding immigration because it grounds them with the lives and families they affect. Vargas, amongst others, are a testament to the many ways of being American.
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  • Veronica
    January 1, 1970
    This is a tough but necessary read. There's so much I didn't know about immigration and this shines light on some of that. For a nation made of immigrants, the US is currently making it difficult to continue to be such a nation. Can you imagine growing up and finding out you're here illegally and not having any recourse to really change that?
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    from my review submitted to Indie Next: The first thing you should know about this book is that it is not arsenal for current political debate. It is coincidentally a very timely memoir of a young Filipino boy sent to America as a child who remains unaware of his legal status until he became a teenager and attempted to get a driver's license. As he ages and continues to wrestle with what it means to be simultaneously American yet un-American, Vargas challenges the reader to "Define American" and from my review submitted to Indie Next: The first thing you should know about this book is that it is not arsenal for current political debate. It is coincidentally a very timely memoir of a young Filipino boy sent to America as a child who remains unaware of his legal status until he became a teenager and attempted to get a driver's license. As he ages and continues to wrestle with what it means to be simultaneously American yet un-American, Vargas challenges the reader to "Define American" and enlightens us on the condition of our bipartisan-broken immigration system. Dear America is a fascinating, eye-opening, important read I would recommend to everyone.
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  • Brian Kovesci
    January 1, 1970
    This book needs to be read."There comes a moment in each of our lives when we must confront the central truth in order for life to go on." (p. 110)
  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    If nothing else this remarkable and well written memoir serve to put a human face on the immigration issue in our nation. It is a quick and insightful read, that caused me to pause along the way and think hard about what it means to be an citizen of America. We are after all save for the Native Americans, and African Americans--- a country made up of immigrants. Some of have been fortunate enough to have our path to citizenship given to us by nature of our birth doing nothing to earn it. our pat If nothing else this remarkable and well written memoir serve to put a human face on the immigration issue in our nation. It is a quick and insightful read, that caused me to pause along the way and think hard about what it means to be an citizen of America. We are after all save for the Native Americans, and African Americans--- a country made up of immigrants. Some of have been fortunate enough to have our path to citizenship given to us by nature of our birth doing nothing to earn it. our path to citizenship given to us by our ancestors. The book served for me to frame the issues in a human way and it was enough for me. I will hope to learn more
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  • Lainey
    January 1, 1970
    Book 114. Dear America by @joseiswriting. This familiar story is heartbreaking. Mixed status families is all too familiar to me. Hearing how someone offered to marry him was also a very familiar moment. So many people fail to understand how hard it is to become a citizen. How there is no line to get in for children who were brought here and did not know what was going on. How it is a privilege to never have to worry about your citizenship. Thank you Jose for sharing your story.
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  • Terra
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up this ARC and I could not put it down. I plan on getting my thoughts down to post a full review on my blog. This books comes out tomorrow and I can't wait to get a copy.
  • Cherie
    January 1, 1970
    Advanced Reader’s Copy received from Baker & Taylor. “Dear America” is the heart-wrenching biography of a man struggling to identify himself as an American citizen when everything is working against him. Vargas’ journey illustrates just how difficult the path to citizenship can be, even for someone as well-connected as himself. “Why don’t you just become legal?” It’s the question at the heart of this book because it’s the muddiest gray area for those who are stuck in legal limbo like Vargas. Advanced Reader’s Copy received from Baker & Taylor. “Dear America” is the heart-wrenching biography of a man struggling to identify himself as an American citizen when everything is working against him. Vargas’ journey illustrates just how difficult the path to citizenship can be, even for someone as well-connected as himself. “Why don’t you just become legal?” It’s the question at the heart of this book because it’s the muddiest gray area for those who are stuck in legal limbo like Vargas. People think citizenship is black and white; like you can just go to the DMV, check a box, and it’s done. People act as if non-citizenship is a willful choice, an act of defiance, and treat you as a criminal when it’s not a matter of choice, it’s a matter of ability. And even when people learn the truth of the matter, there are those who are too un-empathetic, obstinate, and close-minded. Those who think self-deportation is what it comes down to when citizenship can’t be obtained. This book looks those people directly in the eyes and asks about home, identity, and what makes you American.
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  • Georgette
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent. Everyone in the United States should be reading this book in light of what's going on in this country.
  • Serina
    January 1, 1970
    A must read for anyone who is a resident of the U.S., anyone interested in the U.S, and anyone who wants to claim some sense of understanding of the U.S.'s political stance on immigration. Vargas provides a new perspective as an undocumented Filipino immigrant and as a member of the LGBTQA community.
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  • Shirley Freeman
    January 1, 1970
    Here's another book every American should read. Not because it will cause us all to be of one mind concerning immigration but because it will give us all a starting point for civil discourse. It is the story of one real person behind the statistics. Many folks who are more in tune with current culture will know who Jose Antonio Vargas is but I had never heard of him. He's a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who discovered he was undocumented when he went to apply for a driver's license at age 16 Here's another book every American should read. Not because it will cause us all to be of one mind concerning immigration but because it will give us all a starting point for civil discourse. It is the story of one real person behind the statistics. Many folks who are more in tune with current culture will know who Jose Antonio Vargas is but I had never heard of him. He's a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who discovered he was undocumented when he went to apply for a driver's license at age 16. Originally from the Philipines, Vargas has lived in the U.S. for 25 years. He's now 37 and hasn't seen his mother since she put him on a plane when he was 12. His story is one of incredible resilience and bravery and also lying and homelessness (as in having no country he can call home). I feel called to become more educated about immigration and to become part of the solution to our current struggles. (to be published in September)
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  • John Garvin
    January 1, 1970
    A good book on the problem that America has with its immigration policy. I did not agree with everything in the book, but it did teach me a lot that I didn't know about immigration. One of the big complaints I have is not with the final version of this book. I have a galley copy. I understand that it is an uncorrected proof of the book. But I have read a lot of galleys, and this one has a ridiculous amount of misspellings, wrong words, or incorrect punctuation. I know I'm not perfect. This post A good book on the problem that America has with its immigration policy. I did not agree with everything in the book, but it did teach me a lot that I didn't know about immigration. One of the big complaints I have is not with the final version of this book. I have a galley copy. I understand that it is an uncorrected proof of the book. But I have read a lot of galleys, and this one has a ridiculous amount of misspellings, wrong words, or incorrect punctuation. I know I'm not perfect. This post is probably fraught with incorrect grammar. But I am not writing a book. Nor am I a professional journalist as this author is. It was just too many for me not to mention.
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  • Erica Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    I devpured this book. Its a beautiful reveal of the true problem with immigration. And I was surprised at how much I really didn't know. Growing up and living in Vermont, as a white natural born citizen, the most exposure I had to the immigration issue was through the migrant farmers and refugee population. After Trump was elected. I slowly saw the familiar faces of the seasonal workers in my hometown start to dwindle. Even in a progressive place like Vermont, I found myself and my neighbors div I devpured this book. Its a beautiful reveal of the true problem with immigration. And I was surprised at how much I really didn't know. Growing up and living in Vermont, as a white natural born citizen, the most exposure I had to the immigration issue was through the migrant farmers and refugee population. After Trump was elected. I slowly saw the familiar faces of the seasonal workers in my hometown start to dwindle. Even in a progressive place like Vermont, I found myself and my neighbors divided by their blind hatred and racism. I would recommend this book to anyone taking a civics course in high school, or even a modern US history class. It's a conversation starter, and it truly captures the question of who is American.
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  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    Sad and incredibly infuriating (as I should've known) and a fascinating perspective. I felt the switch from hiding to being ready to reveal came a little too suddenly without quite explaining how he got there, but other than that, an excellent, fast, important read.
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  • Harriet
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone must read this when it comes out in August or September.
  • Seth
    January 1, 1970
    A story that must be told in days like these. A story so much like many that have similar experiences.
  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    **I received an ARC of this book from my local bookstore in exchange for a review.**Jose Antonio Vargas, author of Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, was born in the Philippines. At age 12 his mother sent him to the United States to live with her parents. At sixteen Vargas discovers that his papers are fake. Still, decades later at the writing of this book, Vargas is still here illegally.In Dear America, Vargas chronicles his journey from leaving the Philippines at the age of 12 to **I received an ARC of this book from my local bookstore in exchange for a review.**Jose Antonio Vargas, author of Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, was born in the Philippines. At age 12 his mother sent him to the United States to live with her parents. At sixteen Vargas discovers that his papers are fake. Still, decades later at the writing of this book, Vargas is still here illegally.In Dear America, Vargas chronicles his journey from leaving the Philippines at the age of 12 to growing up with his mother's parents and discovering the fake papers. He gives credit to those who helped him as a high school student, as a young adult getting his first journalist job, and so on. Through all of this the reader is able to witness Vargas' struggles, his pain, and most of all his constant worry of what might happen to him if his secret is ever found out.This book is a call to arms. A whistle blowing on what it is like to live in fear every day as an undocumented individual. It is also posing the question of what does it mean to be American? How does our country and its leaders define "American," provided they even give any thought to it. This is one of the many questions Vargas asks over and over again throughout the course of the book. This is a book about lying to get by, about families, and about what it means to not really have a home.Even though this is an ARC the errors in this book were numerous, and were sometimes distracting from the narrative. I hope that the published copy does more justice in this area to Vargas' story.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    "Dear America, is this what you really want? Do you even know what is happening in your name?"Most of us don't know what is happening in our name.This gorgeously written memoir is an important baby step towards Americans learning about our current deeply broken immigration system and the effects it has on our neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and - in Jose's case - award-winning journalists. This book is a critical inspiration to getting us asking better questions about American immigration hist "Dear America, is this what you really want? Do you even know what is happening in your name?"Most of us don't know what is happening in our name.This gorgeously written memoir is an important baby step towards Americans learning about our current deeply broken immigration system and the effects it has on our neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and - in Jose's case - award-winning journalists. This book is a critical inspiration to getting us asking better questions about American immigration history (our long tradition of racist and ethnic exclusions, including but not limited to the long-standing Chinese Exclusion Act), where quota systems came from and how they are failing, the impossible challenges facing undocumented immigrants in the current system.How do we create paths to citizenship for friends, family and neighbors we recognize as Americans without question until an ICE or border patrol agent asks for proof of citizenship?May we all come away from this book asking that question and reaching out to our representatives at the state and federal level to make life a little easier on our undocumented neighbors.
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  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    I really loved this book at first. Vargas’s story of leaving his homeland for an uncertain future was moving. I also enjoyed reading about how he came to discover he was undocumented and about his second family. After he decided to “come out” as undocumented, I feel like things went downhill. Rather than a memoir, the book became a diatribe about America’s immigration policies, and he never offered a solution. Jose let his immigration status define him, and he faced so many issues of disconnecti I really loved this book at first. Vargas’s story of leaving his homeland for an uncertain future was moving. I also enjoyed reading about how he came to discover he was undocumented and about his second family. After he decided to “come out” as undocumented, I feel like things went downhill. Rather than a memoir, the book became a diatribe about America’s immigration policies, and he never offered a solution. Jose let his immigration status define him, and he faced so many issues of disconnection in relationships. The worst part of the book though, was the last chapter. No resolution or connection to him accepting himself or talk of finding a true home in America. Meh.
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  • Julián Gustavo Gómez
    January 1, 1970
    As a formerly undocumented American, this book hit home in ways I didn’t know it would. I have heard Jose Antonio Vargas tell his story innumerable times over the last 7 years since he “came out” as undocumented publicly, but never like this. This book is not about politics, it’s about existing in a country with a government that only acknowledges you to remind you you’re not welcome if at all. This is not the story of all undocumented immigrants, it’s Jose’s story, but anyone (immigrant or not) As a formerly undocumented American, this book hit home in ways I didn’t know it would. I have heard Jose Antonio Vargas tell his story innumerable times over the last 7 years since he “came out” as undocumented publicly, but never like this. This book is not about politics, it’s about existing in a country with a government that only acknowledges you to remind you you’re not welcome if at all. This is not the story of all undocumented immigrants, it’s Jose’s story, but anyone (immigrant or not) will find this book will stay with them long after they’ve turned the last page.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    A must, must, must read! Much like Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, this book will take you on a roller coaster of emotions, if you care anything about your fellow human, about social justice or about truth. Be prepared to feel despair and hope, disgust and admiration, sadness and joy as you read this book. I can’t wait to see Jose Antonio Vargas speak in person in October when my Library hosts him.
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  • Aditi
    January 1, 1970
    I just devoured Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas. It is the first book in a LONG time that I have read in one sitting. It is a book that should be part of the American cannon providing a clear and searing look at the impact our immigration system has on the lives of our neighbors.
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  • Marissa
    January 1, 1970
    An honest look at the life of one undocumented American and the challenges he faces. The tone and style matured over the course of the book, reflecting the author's age and understanding of his predicament. A very good read for teens.
  • Kit
    January 1, 1970
    How do we fix this?
  • Geannie Bastian
    January 1, 1970
    This was a quick read, but it didn't take long to break my heart.
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