One of our recommended books for 2019 is Here We Are by Aarti Namdev Shahani

HERE WE ARE

American Dreams, American Nightmares


A heartfelt memoir about the immigrant experience from NPR correspondent Aarti Shahani, Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares follows the lives of Aarti, the precocious scholarship kid at one of Manhattan’s most elite prep schools, and her dad, the shopkeeper who mistakenly sells watches and calculators to the notorious Cali drug cartel. Together, the two represent the extremes that coexist in our country, even within a single family, and a truth about immigrants that gets lost in the headlines. It isn’t a matter of good or evil; it’s complicated. Here We Are is a coming-of-age story,

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A heartfelt memoir about the immigrant experience from NPR correspondent Aarti Shahani, Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares follows the lives of Aarti, the precocious scholarship kid at one of Manhattan’s most elite prep schools, and her dad, the shopkeeper who mistakenly sells watches and calculators to the notorious Cali drug cartel. Together, the two represent the extremes that coexist in our country, even within a single family, and a truth about immigrants that gets lost in the headlines. It isn’t a matter of good or evil; it’s complicated. Here We Are is a coming-of-age story, a love letter from an outspoken modern daughter to her soft-spoken Old World father. She never expected they’d become best friends.

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  • Celadon Books
  • Hardcover
  • October 2019
  • 256 Pages
  • 9781250204752

Buy the Book

$26.99

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About Aarti Namdev Shahani

Aarti Namdev Shahani is a correspondent for NPR based in Silicon Valley, covering the largest companies on earth. Before journalism, Shahani was a community organizer in New York City, helping prisoners and families facing deportation. She received a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was among the youngest recipients of the Charles H. Revson Fellowship at Columbia University and is an alumna of A Better Chance, Inc. Shahani grew up in Flushing, Queens.

Praise

“Aarti Shahani’s book is destined to take its place among the finest memoirs written in recent decades—a heartbreaking, hilarious and tender love letter to the millions of people who have made their way across lands and oceans to try and find a new life in America. This book will take you on a vivid, almost cinematic journey that is both beautiful and unforgettable.” Guy Raz, co-creator of How I Built This, Wow in the World, and TED Radio Hour

“Clear-eyed and compulsively readable, shot through with compassion, humor and heart, Here We Are is a quintessential immigrant story and an urgent call for change.”  Shelf Awareness

Discussion Questions

1. Why did Aarti’s parents decide to come to America even though they didn’t have papers? Do you think they made the right decision?

2. How do you think A Better Chance Inc. and Brearley changed Aarti’s perspectives and the course of her life?

3. What were the effects of the September 11, 2001 attacks on Aarti’s advocacy efforts in New York and Washington, DC?

4. Aarti describes the gentrification of the area on Broadway where her father and uncle had their store. Have you seen anything similar happening in areas near you?

5. How do you feel about Judge Blumenfeld’s criticism to Aarti: “You’re not living a life about what you were really born to do”?

6. How did Aarti’s relationship with her father evolve over the course of their story? In what ways did the tragedy he experienced actually increase their understanding of one another?

7. Why do you think Aarti became a journalist? How does her work as a journalist inform the way she shared her family’s story?

8. Aarti comes to question if the U.S. is her home, and her father’s home. What would you say makes your country your home?