For some teenagers, adding to the already heavy burden of leaving childhood behind is the complication of doing so in a new country or with parents who cleave to the old one. Come On In: Fifteen Stories About Immigration and Finding Home, edited by contributor Adi Alsaid (North of Happy), is a potent anthology of short fiction by YA writers who, as their biographical notes attest, have been there and done that.
For some of the stories' teenage protagonists, assimilation has unanticipated costs. In Sharon Morse's "Hard to Say," a 16-year-old who moved to the United States from Venezuela when she was five is jealous that her older sister remembers how to speak Spanish and can converse easily with their grandparents. Other stories make clear that total assimilation isn't an option. In Sona Charaipotra's "The Trip," the narrator, who emigrated from India with her family when she was two, is sidelined by airport security as the rest of her New Jersey high school's Model UN team boards a plane to Geneva. She knows about "the Muslim ban and stuff.... They think I'm a terrorist."
In several stories, ICE is an antagonizing force; in others, family is the heavy. As Maurene Goo's narrator puts it in "A Bigger Tent," "There was just so much bullshit wrapped up in being a good immigrant kid." Come On In will likely be a great comfort to readers who identify with its protagonists and an eye-opener for anyone who has been observing the immigrant experience without really seeing it. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author