American Street by Ibi Zoboi
American Street was a novel seeped in culture, family, and bursting with life. I read Ibi Zoboi’s debut novel in two sittings, and that was only because I was too exhausted to continue into the night. Fabiola Toussaint is a 16-year-old Haitian immigrant who arrives in Detroit, but separated from her mother who is detained by U.S. Immigration. She is welcomed into the city by her aunt and three cousins, “lovingly” known as the Three Bees, who have social dominance over the private high school they attend. I was immersed into the juxtaposition of Detroit life and Haitian culture alongside Fabiola as she brings her unique perspective of her Haitian upbringing as she attempts to navigate life in America, both as an immigrant and as a teenage girl.
At the core of this story is culture, family, and what the American dream is truly about and how far one is willing to go to get it. How far will Fabiola go to get her mother out of the detention center? And what will the cost be? I particularly loved the strength of the relationships between the cousins, Fabiola, and her mother. Watching Fabiola discover her place in school, with her family and newfound friends, and with America is powerful and immersive.
Delicious in Dungeon
Delicious in Dungeon was a great intersection of the Great British Bake off and a game of Dungeons and Dragons. As someone who does not read a ton of manga, I happily breezed through the adventures of Laios and the explorers as they wander through the dungeon. Divided into 6 easily “digestible” sections, Delicious in Dungeon was a comedic rescue mission. The team is made up of lively characters whose mission is to rescue the body of Falin who sacrificed herself for the good of the party (people can be brought back to life), while also desperately wanting to cook the monsters and plant life found within the dungeon. These voracious eaters are fun, quirky, and obsessed with food as much as they want to rescue Falin. As a D&D nerd myself, I enjoyed the adventuring and humorous personalities each character brought to the party as they scavenge the dungeon.
Throughout the entire campaign are tips for cooking the different plant and animal/monster life found in the dungeon. Unfortunately, the recipes were not readily translatable to human life today, which I would have liked as a reader to experiment with. They are quite amusing, and readers will enjoy discovering what can be used as basilisk eggs and mandrakes to make Mandrake Kakiage and Big Bat Tempura.
And the winner is…
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
American Street has everything you can want in a novel- an engrossing story, compelling narrator, and a deep desire to continue reading into the night. Ibi Zoboi does a wonderful job fleshing out secondary characters and weaving storylines to gain a deeper perspective into life as an immigrant teen. While Delicious in Dungeon was a fun adventure into RPG (roleplaying games) world, it didn’t have the same effect as American Street. Fabiola’s story will stick with you long after you are done reading.