If you could build a magical world, what would it look like? If you were immigrating to a different nation, what would you envision before arriving on its shores? The characters in young adult fiction can answer these questions.
One beautiful aspect of America is the idea that it is warm and welcoming to all; that success and happiness is offered equally to any who work for it. However, that fantasy is not always true. The country is made up of many incredible people who have left their homelands behind in order to forge ahead in an unfamiliar place. Each story is unique. Some families have moved together, while others traveled individually. Many immigrants seek shelter, or the promise of possibilities a new country might be able to offer them. But the realities of facing fear and sacrifice, longing and hope, hurt and heartbreak, are complex and commonplace.
These threads are also interwoven throughout stories of magic. How many tales have been told of warriors and wizards who have been tasked with exploring unfamiliar lands? Giving up meaningful objects and memories for the greater good? Battling systems and citizens who oppose them at every turn? The immigrant stories found throughout young adult literature are not so different.
Yet folkloric feats of glory are often more easily digested than the true testaments of actual immigrants. From being thrown into a culture and school system that is impatient and unaccepting of those learning English, to living in fear of a ruthless dystopian deportation operation, the teens in YA fiction work against odds any witch or goddess would find challenging. Reading about these experiences—whether fictional or nonfictional—has given me a glimpse into the lives of many who live alongside me. Our journeys to the United States might look different, but we’ve all ended up in the same place. And it’s important to listen well with open minds and hearts about how each arrived here.
Are you ready to hear what young adults have gone through and dreamed of as immigrants? Take this quick quiz to create your dream magical world and find your next great YA book about immigrants.
Hungry for more YA titles about immigration? Check out 7 YA Books About Immigration, Immigrant Camps, and Deportation. Want to see what other interesting books were included in this quiz?
- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
- Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
- You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
- Loveboat Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
- Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher (September 2020)
- Come On In by Adi Alsaid, Yamile Saied Méndez, Zoraida Córdova, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Maurene Goo, Justine Larbalestier, Sona Charaipotra, Nafiza Azad, Maria E. Andreu, Misa Sugiura, Sharon Morse, Sara Farizan, Varsha Bajaj, Lilliam Rivera, and Isabel Quintero (October 2020)