Chaithanya Sohan and Shaima Adin
Motivational Press, Inc.
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau for Reader Views (1/19)
“America Deconstructed” is a collection of non-fiction stories chronicling the journeys of sixteen different individuals as they immigrate to and settle down in the United States. As of February 2018, immigrants and their children make up 27% of the American population. That’s approximately 86.4 million people. Each one has a unique story behind their decision to call the United States home, and authors Chaithanya Sohan and Shaima Adin have done a fantastic job in documenting several of those tales.
Among these sixteen different stories are “An Alien in America!” and “You Will be Slaughtered Alive!” These two pieces detail Sohan’s and Adin’s own journeys into the United States and account both their positive and negative experiences as they settled into the country. Through their own personal experiences, the authors bring an added layer of depth and understanding to a topic that has always been important but is perhaps even more so in today’s age.
In each section of the collection, readers are able to slip behind the eyes of a new narrator and observe their reactions to instances and encounters that those who have spent their entire lives in the United States would not even pause to notice. From taking a first bite of American cuisine to navigating a language barrier, each short piece provides the audience with a snapshot of a different life.
It is particularly insightful to see your country through the eyes of someone who has never seen it before. One example is the way that the United States is idealized both by its inhabitants and abroad. The astute observation of one narrator, from the story “One Inch From Heaven and a Quarter Inch From Hell!” reads, “When I came here, I was shocked to see homeless Americans, too. Back home, we never thought America even had potholes, let alone poverty or homelessness” (141). There is a certain level of disappointment when it is realized that the United States is not the perfect utopia it is often portrayed as.
Everyone can benefit from examining their everyday lives through a new lens. During this tumultuous period of history, Chaithanya Sohan’s and Shaima Adin’s “America Deconstructed” offers its audience a gentle reminder: different people have different experiences in and with the same country. It would be doing society an injustice to assume otherwise. This is a collection brimming with honest emotion and unique human experience.