Title: The New kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High school for Immigrant Teens.
Author: Brooke Hauser
First Edition: 2011
Genre: Non-fiction/narrative journalism/case studies
The teenager who walked across deserts and mountains to get to New York City, the teenager who arrived in New York City after escaping in a suitcase, and the undocumented teenager who hid in New York City, all of them, find a safe place at Brooklyn’s International High School at Proper Heights, where all students are recent immigrants learning English.
The book offers a representation of immigrant teens’ lives and behavior, from the point of view of a journalist. The stories are written like an ethnographic report; like research notes for a future book.
The book is about teenagers, not as characters, but just as real teenagers. The teenagers’ stories focus on everyday life situations narrated using an objective perspective, like an ethnographer would write about a tribe or a group of people.
The journalistic style leaves no space for emotional storytelling. The traumas and wars in the teenagers’ native countries and the teenagers’ struggles for freedom and identity are described with short, simple sentences that present objective stories based on facts.
It is difficult to connect emotionally with the teenagers’ stories. The writing style used by the author leaves no space for emotions.
In addition, the swearing words clog the book’s sentences like pieces of dirty paper on a clean pipe spilling fresh water.
People, in general, not only teenagers, swear profusely in real life, but the swearing words in the book are totally unnecessary.
Nonetheless, I found this book a wonderful collection of ideas for future lesson plans and a rich pot of facts about other cultures different from mine.
Not all stories in the book had a happy ending. The book was written in the year 2009– the teenagers’ graduation year. I have tried to find out what happened to the teenagers after graduation, but my research led to nothing,
BUT, I did find this beautiful image, depicting the Class of 2009 at the International High School at Prospect Heights. If we look closer, we may spot Mohamed, Jessica, Ngawang, Chit Su, Yasmeen, and all the other teens described in the book.
The image shows happy teens, not teens worried about their accents, skin color, or culture. No human being should have to escape a country in a suitcase. No human being should live an inhumane and degrading life.
All human beings should have a smile on their face, food on the table, warm socks and a cozy house, a well-rounded education, and a world made of people who value life and its principles.
Ink n Paper.
P.S.: If you are a teacher in search of cool ideas, check teaching ideas and classroom activities related to this book!