Wednesday, August 16, 2023

An American Immigrant by Johanna Rojas Vann Book Review

About the Book:

Twenty-five-year-old Melanie Carvajal, a hardworking but struggling journalist for a Miami newspaper, loves her Colombian mother but regularly ignores her phone calls, frustrated that she never quite takes the time to understand Melanie’s life. When the opportunity arises for a big assignment that might save her flagging career, Melanie follows the story to the land of her mother’s birth. She soon realizes Colombia has the potential to connect her, after all these years, to something she’s long ignored: her heritage, the love of her mother, her family, and the richest parts of herself.

Colombia offers more than a chance to make a name for herself as a writer. It is a place of untold stories.

Inspired by real-life events, An American Immigrant is a story of culture and community, of abiding commitment to family, and of embracing our culture and the generations that have come before. 

My Review:

Every immigrant to America has a story and Vann gives us insights into one from Columbia. The plot is framed by the contemporary story of Melanie. She travels to Columbia as a journalist needing to write a story to save her career. The past is brought to light when Melanie discovers and reads her mother's journal. I was a little surprised at the ease of Anita traveling to the US. Her story is so unlike others I have read, involving much danger and heartache.

We gain some insight into an immigrant's thoughts on arriving in the US, the hope for a better life, the disappointment at employment opportunities and the yearning for the friends, family and culture of the home country.

Vann points out through character dialogue and thought that people often have misconceptions about people and places with which they are not familiar. Melanie's grandmother said it well. Noting how difficult it is to see the world from someone else's point of view, if we even catch a glimpse from standing in their shoes, “it can change not only how we see them but how we see the world.” This novel gives that glimpse, especially since it is based on the experiences of Vann's family.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Johanna Rojas Vann is a professional writer whose work can be found online and within numerous publications. She is a second-generation Colombian American, with dual citizenship, and lives with her husband and children in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Multnomah, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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