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American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures

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From award-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera comes a vibrant and varied collection of first person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures. America Ferrera has always felt wholly American, and yet, her identity is inextricably linked to her parents' homeland and Honduran culture. Speaking Spanish at home, havi From award-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera comes a vibrant and varied collection of first person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures. America Ferrera has always felt wholly American, and yet, her identity is inextricably linked to her parents' homeland and Honduran culture. Speaking Spanish at home, having Saturday-morning-salsa-dance-parties in the kitchen, and eating tamales alongside apple pie at Christmas never seemed at odds with her American identity. Still, she yearned to see that identity reflected in the larger American narrative. Now, in American Like Me, America invites thirty-one of her friends, peers, and heroes to share their stories about life between cultures. We know them as actors, comedians, athletes, politicians, artists, and writers. But they are also immigrants, children or grandchildren of immigrants, indigenous people, or people who otherwise grew up with deep and personal connections to more than one culture. Each of them struggled to establish a sense of self, find belonging, and feel seen. And they call themselves American enthusiastically, reluctantly, or not at all. Ranging from the heartfelt to the hilarious, their stories shine a light on a quintessentially American experience and will appeal to anyone with a complicated relationship to family, culture, and growing up.


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From award-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera comes a vibrant and varied collection of first person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures. America Ferrera has always felt wholly American, and yet, her identity is inextricably linked to her parents' homeland and Honduran culture. Speaking Spanish at home, havi From award-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera comes a vibrant and varied collection of first person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures. America Ferrera has always felt wholly American, and yet, her identity is inextricably linked to her parents' homeland and Honduran culture. Speaking Spanish at home, having Saturday-morning-salsa-dance-parties in the kitchen, and eating tamales alongside apple pie at Christmas never seemed at odds with her American identity. Still, she yearned to see that identity reflected in the larger American narrative. Now, in American Like Me, America invites thirty-one of her friends, peers, and heroes to share their stories about life between cultures. We know them as actors, comedians, athletes, politicians, artists, and writers. But they are also immigrants, children or grandchildren of immigrants, indigenous people, or people who otherwise grew up with deep and personal connections to more than one culture. Each of them struggled to establish a sense of self, find belonging, and feel seen. And they call themselves American enthusiastically, reluctantly, or not at all. Ranging from the heartfelt to the hilarious, their stories shine a light on a quintessentially American experience and will appeal to anyone with a complicated relationship to family, culture, and growing up.

30 review for American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sachi Argabright

    Please stop whatever you’re doing and buy this book! I knew it would be right up my alley, but this book greatly exceeded my expectations. I was blown away by most of the essays, and was able to relate so closely to their themes. As person of mixed race who was raised by a Japanese immigrant, I was so pleased to see so many of my experiences reflected on the pages of this book. There were so many little things that resonated with me too such as Reshma Saujani talking about using an “easier” fake Please stop whatever you’re doing and buy this book! I knew it would be right up my alley, but this book greatly exceeded my expectations. I was blown away by most of the essays, and was able to relate so closely to their themes. As person of mixed race who was raised by a Japanese immigrant, I was so pleased to see so many of my experiences reflected on the pages of this book. There were so many little things that resonated with me too such as Reshma Saujani talking about using an “easier” fake name at Starbucks (I use my old initials: Sam) to Liza Koshy’s comments of being racially ambiguous. Even if you’re not a person of color, I believe this book would be great way to gain perspective of what it’s like to feel connected to multiple cultures while living in this country. I learned so much about other cultures and customs, and even if I didn’t know the writer of the essay initially - I ended up doing a lot of googling afterward because I was so moved by their comments. I flew through this book, and was excited to flip the page at the end of each essay to see who was next! American Like Me is a timely and unique collection that has so much to offer.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Peña

    “But what ARE you?!” As someone who’s grown up, especially as a child, not knowing exactly what to tell people when they ask where I’m from after I say, “Here?” or “My family is from Texas, they’ve always been from Texas..” I’m just American, right? “But you look Mexican!” Do I? This book showcases pretty heartwarming accounts about what its like growing up in America and not always feeling American, and learning to love yourself and where you came from. Whether you started out here, or found your “But what ARE you?!” As someone who’s grown up, especially as a child, not knowing exactly what to tell people when they ask where I’m from after I say, “Here?” or “My family is from Texas, they’ve always been from Texas..” I’m just American, right? “But you look Mexican!” Do I? This book showcases pretty heartwarming accounts about what its like growing up in America and not always feeling American, and learning to love yourself and where you came from. Whether you started out here, or found yourself here. I laughed and cried. It’s worth a read or listen.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Krissy

    I laughed, I cried!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shadowdenizen

    This book is utterly compelling, and came at quite literally the perfect time in our American history. I think this is not only an IMPORTANT book, but a NEEDED one. As things begin to change and move forward in our country (hopefully for the better!), there will understandably be some resistance: change can be frightening. But we can't let that small minority paralyze the rest of us. I think this book will stand the test of time, and hopefully will serve to enlighten and galvanize people to realiz This book is utterly compelling, and came at quite literally the perfect time in our American history. I think this is not only an IMPORTANT book, but a NEEDED one. As things begin to change and move forward in our country (hopefully for the better!), there will understandably be some resistance: change can be frightening. But we can't let that small minority paralyze the rest of us. I think this book will stand the test of time, and hopefully will serve to enlighten and galvanize people to realize that, though we are all different, and our stories are each unique, we are also the same, and each is integral to this democratic experiment. My thanks to America Ferrera, and to all the featured artists for sharing their stories. You have each installed me with a tiny bit of hope.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    I haven’t written a review in a while, but I’m in tears and this book was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Every single essay in this compilation is incredibly important and carries so much power with it. I never wanted it to end. Please, please go get a copy!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Not to be all "I couldn't put it down!" but I couldn't put it down. As a white, third-generation non-American, I definitely wasn't the target demographic, but there were still so many moments and emotions that rang true to my life and experiences. It gave me so much to think about regarding parent-child relationships, passing down (or not passing down) language and culture, the childhood importance of fitting in, and what it means to self-identify based on your cultural upbringing. Reshma's, Ame Not to be all "I couldn't put it down!" but I couldn't put it down. As a white, third-generation non-American, I definitely wasn't the target demographic, but there were still so many moments and emotions that rang true to my life and experiences. It gave me so much to think about regarding parent-child relationships, passing down (or not passing down) language and culture, the childhood importance of fitting in, and what it means to self-identify based on your cultural upbringing. Reshma's, America's and Uzo's were my favourite essays, but they're all worth a read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Punam Sachdev

    Shed a few tears reading this book. Wish I had reflected more on the various immigrant/child of immigrants experiences as I was growing up...didn’t realize until much later how we were all writing our own chapters for ourselves and the next generation...and how different families added their own unique tales with experiences so different from yet so similar to my own. Thank you, America Ferrara for putting this together 🙏🏾

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ruby

    "I invited my friends, peers, and heroes to share their stories in this book so that we might build community; so that we could ientify our whole selves within a larger culture that tends to leave important pieces of our stories out; so that our voices would amplify one another's as we declare who we actually are. We are kids with no key chains, daughters carrying history in the gaps of our teeth. We are the sons of parents who don't speak of the past, inheritors of warriors' blood and mad barga "I invited my friends, peers, and heroes to share their stories in this book so that we might build community; so that we could ientify our whole selves within a larger culture that tends to leave important pieces of our stories out; so that our voices would amplify one another's as we declare who we actually are. We are kids with no key chains, daughters carrying history in the gaps of our teeth. We are the sons of parents who don't speak of the past, inheritors of warriors' blood and mad bargaining skills. We are the grandchildren of survival: legacies, delivered from genocide, colonization, and enslavement. We are the slayers of "impossible." We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors's dreams wearing the weight of their sacrifice on our backs. Our love is radical; our unstraightened hair, a tiny revolution. We are here to survive, to thrive, to live. We connect to our roots clumsily, unkowingly, unceasingly. We call ourselves "American" enthusiastically, reluctantly, or not at all. We take fragments of what was broken, severed, or lost in history, and we create whole selves, new families, and better futures. We live as citizens of a country that does not always claim us or even see us, and yet, we continue to build, to create, and to compel it toward its own promise." "I was beginning to learn that bravery is like a muscle, and once you flex it, you can't stop. And being authentic requires a lot of bravery." --Reshma Saujani "It was a strange kind of poetry how my family managed to eat so decadently on a fraction of the income our white counterparts raked in." "I was a lonely, strange teen who lived mostly in the past and the fture, as both were more romantic than the present." "The loneliness of being different turned out to be more than bearable, it spurred an interest in wanting to learn about the deep roots of racism and xenophobia in this country, and anyway, adolescence ultimately did not scar me, but fortified me." --Jenny Zhang "My past experiences have helped me define what it means to be American. It has nothing to do with speaking perfect English, trying to be the American version of cool, or fitting into a mold. It's about celebrating the diverse cultures and heritage that enrich this country. It's about playing our part to help make it better one." --Bambadjan Bamba "Most first-geneartion kids are familiar with the negotiations of who we are at home and who we are in the wider world." --Roxane Gay "My immigrant parents taught me to believe in the american dream. And immigration is part of the American fabric. Our stories matter." --Diane Guerrero "For my family, the American dream wasn't just a fairy-tale notion or a meaningless phrase. It has always been real and extremely motivating. It was the idea that if you work hard and take big risks for what you believe in, you can accomplish anything. My parents didn't feel like they had this chance where they grew up, so they brought themselves and their extreme determination to America." --Michelle Kwan "To erase us is to erase the evidence of their violence. Once Native Americans cease to exist, the United States can rewrite the history of this illegal settler colony." --Frank Waln From my experience, many immigrants are fearless. They leave so much behind to brave something so new and challenging." --Wilmer Valderrama "I've learned you can be unapologetically proud of your culture, your heritage, and your heart, and you can celebrate everything about yourself without justification." --Anjelah Johnson-Reyes "When you ar ethe child of an immigrant, as I am, you never experience the youth of your parents. You never see them as kids who are in the sweeter side of a parent-child relationship. You can lose this window into their humanity. They are the saviors, the dreamers, and the sacrificers. Not the innocent or vulnerable people."Uzo Aduba "It is true that in Muslim families, women are often the backbone, the foundation, an dnot so much at the forefront." --Linda Sarsour "America did not cherry-pick her way to greatness. instead, we created a system-an infrastructure of opportunity-that enables the pursuit of the american dream through hard work." --Joaquin Castro

  9. 4 out of 5

    L

    I haven't finished a book in a while for a number of reasons. No small part is due to what is happening in America right now. I needed this book. I needed to hear about the voices who aren't usually heard. And true, all of these people are celebrities or are notable for one reason or another, which gives them the privilege to be heard. Still, hearing about their childhood experiences, about their family member's experiences, really felt refreshing. I really appreciate this book. Also, the descri I haven't finished a book in a while for a number of reasons. No small part is due to what is happening in America right now. I needed this book. I needed to hear about the voices who aren't usually heard. And true, all of these people are celebrities or are notable for one reason or another, which gives them the privilege to be heard. Still, hearing about their childhood experiences, about their family member's experiences, really felt refreshing. I really appreciate this book. Also, the description emphasizes about Roxane Gay's and Lin Manuel Miranda's contribution but, honestly, they were the shortest and slightly disappointing parts of the book. Don't just read it for their parts. There's many more that are a lot better.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelly 💜☕️

    Such a great collection of stories from immigrants and children of immigrants. So many famous people that everyone knows at least 5 of the 32. You may not know them by name, but once you hear their accomplishments, I realized I knew more than I expected. America Ferrera compiled and edited the collection, told her own stories and did narration for the audio version. So many celebrities: Lin-Manuel Miranda of HAMILTON, olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez, olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, Top Che Such a great collection of stories from immigrants and children of immigrants. So many famous people that everyone knows at least 5 of the 32. You may not know them by name, but once you hear their accomplishments, I realized I knew more than I expected. America Ferrera compiled and edited the collection, told her own stories and did narration for the audio version. So many celebrities: Lin-Manuel Miranda of HAMILTON, olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez, olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, Top Chef host Padma Laksmi, actor Kal Penn, actress Diane Guerrero, actress Uzo Aduba... and many more! Highly recommend. Thanks to San Diego County Library for the digital audio version via Libby app. [Audio: 9 hours, 34 minutes]

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sabina

    I loved the diversity of stories in this one, reading about Native American reservations, Filipino trans pageants, Indian sari-inspired prom dresses, and everything in between. But these essays as a collection kind of let me down. The authors are all celebrities, but they aren’t all fantastic writers. The essays themselves are pretty short and read more like a Jimmy Fallon interview or a quick TED talk than an essay. The essays also felt so deliberate about answering a specific prompt, instead o I loved the diversity of stories in this one, reading about Native American reservations, Filipino trans pageants, Indian sari-inspired prom dresses, and everything in between. But these essays as a collection kind of let me down. The authors are all celebrities, but they aren’t all fantastic writers. The essays themselves are pretty short and read more like a Jimmy Fallon interview or a quick TED talk than an essay. The essays also felt so deliberate about answering a specific prompt, instead of a natural story that emerged over paragraphs. It was nice to get a glimpse into the more private lives and identities of celebrities, but as a person who doesn’t closely follow pop culture, it also felt alienating. It was a nice read, but I didn’t LOVE it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    This is such a heartwarming mosaic (or "salad bowl," as one of the essay writers says) of diverse lived experiences. I particularly related to the essays about existing in a racial/cultural grey area when you're not "enough" of one thing but you're "too much" of another thing. I loved America Ferrera's intro when she talks about feeling "half American" as a kid. Buy this book for your kids! Or for yourself!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    I love the IDEA of this book. In practice, many of the pieces are beautifully rendered and emotionally rich, but too many are just not very well written which affects their message. I think I may have enjoyed this book better in audiobook form or if I read it over a longer period of time (like 1 essay per week). Spoiler: America Ferrera is amazing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shiloh Modisett

    I really enjoyed getting to hear so many Americans’ stories of their relationship to their heritage. I listened to the audiobook and while I appreciated getting to hear the stories being told, I was thrown off by some of the stories being read by their author in their own voice, and some not. Other than that though, I have nothing but good things to say about this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Coral

    "We are the slayers of the 'impossible'." Wow, just a great book. I laughed and cried and felt everyone's pain and hardships. This collection means a lot to me and will forever have a place on my favorites shelf. I only hope there will be a second volume in the near future. So important for anyone to experience - a must read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jen Mayes

    I loved reading all of the beautiful stories that make up this country. We are richer and so much better because of immigrants and refugees who have made the difficult journey to start over in a new culture.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    These short cross-cultural essays are so uplifting! I felt compelled to Google each celebrity I didn't know, and as a result, I bought Diane Guerrero's book "My Family Divided" for my classroom, where it was quickly snatched up by one of my seniors. I will be adding a copy of this one too!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Great little collection of stories written by prominent immigrants. All share a similar string of support for the American Dream, but the detail and the significance of each of these stories to their respective authors rings true.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeimy

    A collection of first person narratives from people of all walks of life. This book was great because it opens our minds to the realities of what life is like for people whose backgrounds and realities are very different than our owns.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Out of many, we are one. Completely uplifting and incredibly important, America Ferrera has collected the stories of people across a vast array of cultures and backgrounds and put into one book: America.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Craig

    Wow I loved this. These were the stories I wanted to hear. Proud Americans but also proud of their heritage. Their heritage defining so much about them but living in a country where the heritage is only celebrated by some. I would recommend this to anyone.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Molly Stuckey

    I had no idea what to expect and I was drawn into each and every unique story. We are all alike, we are all different. A great celebration of the stories that help make us America.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Started a bit slow, but stories get better and better. Inspirational memories.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Martin

    I don’t usually like short essays but I really enjoyed this collection.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    Loved all the different stories from different perspectives. It is imperative that we listen and learn from one another's experiences.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tyra Quicksey

    Everyone stop what your doing and read this book! Powerful!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    So inspiring!!!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Camina

    My heart swelled with so many different emotions, reminds me of my family. We may come from different countries and culture but we all want the same things in life.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Divya Ganesh

    Best book I have read. Related to it on so many levels.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Madison Ickes

    Wow, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Some of the stories are better than others, but the really good ones make the whole book worth it.

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