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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. However, 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. However, 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. 4 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

    Charity

    One of the most effective small things we cis white people in the United States can do is to read other people's stories with curiosity, veracity, love, and gratitude. And do it over and over, for as long as we can read or listen.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Valyssia Leigh

    An exceptionally relevant, beautiful book in this ignorant, paranoid climate of rabid nationalism. Do yourself a favor, take a break from their farcical dystopia and read this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    T

    Phenomenal collection of vignettes from children of immigrants that are at turns familiar and fresh, rib-tickling and eye-opening. Highly recommend. America: yes, denied sleepovers (but justly so)! Reshma: yes, denied custom name keychains! Glad she didn’t change her name when she entered politics. Honestly, if there is a ballot with names I don’t know on an issue I don’t care about, I vote for the foreign name first, woman second, then just pick whichever name I’ve seen on the lawns on my neighb Phenomenal collection of vignettes from children of immigrants that are at turns familiar and fresh, rib-tickling and eye-opening. Highly recommend. America: yes, denied sleepovers (but justly so)! Reshma: yes, denied custom name keychains! Glad she didn’t change her name when she entered politics. Honestly, if there is a ballot with names I don’t know on an issue I don’t care about, I vote for the foreign name first, woman second, then just pick whichever name I’ve seen on the lawns on my neighborhood. Al: fantastic how-to list for any one as canjoose as I am. Jenny: our special occasion oh so American restaurant was, as my husband has us now calling it, “Redneck Lobster.” My Egyptian friend’s dad would go wild over Outback Steakhouse and their blooming onions. Like your family, can’t imagine eating at a Sizzler-type joint anymore. Padma: I, too, know the Siberia of sitting in the back of the Catholic school church! Randall: interviewing your parents and grandparents is a fantastic idea. I began a blog for my mom but it only has four or five anecdotes. Not nearly enough! Roxanne: “I don’t have a family, I have an army.” I have an army and a navy! Carmen: I also did not learn at my parents’ native language very well because they did not want to be confused and English was more important at the time. Now, I can understand most of it but I sound like a caveman when I speak. Issa: on behalf of Ramadan observing Muslims everywhere (if I have to be the religions spokesperson for everything else, why not this?), glad you gave Ramadan a shot. Diane: representation does matter! That’s why I’m so excited that my kids will see familiar brown Desi faces on TV, in the news, in comic books. Liza: I like being racially ambiguous too! Kumail: I never get tired of hearing about your journey from Pakistan to America and your first impressions. Frank: “food violence” - another thing for me to feel sick about. Jeremy: “I got better and better at tuning out their perceptions and negativity, and just focused on my own goals to shut out the haters.” Good advice. Also good advice: drinking as many refills as you can at the old spaghetti factory. America again: Who even are you? Who told you that you could be an actress, an activist, and a great writer? Ravi: thank you for breaking down the Patel Ponzi scheme! Lin: you are adorable. Wilmer: your dad sounds like a gem. Laurie: [thumbs up emoji] Anjelah: Cholaville sounds fraught with danger! Uzo: Oh! Your mom is the one who uttered that delicious quote “if they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoevsky, then they can learn to say Uzoamaka.” High five to her highness! Linda: The story of your exuberant father, so proud and joyful about his daughters when the homeland craves sons, reminded me of my own beloved father.

  6. 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Krissy

    I laughed, I cried!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    America Ferrera has put together an earnest, honest, powerful, and brilliant collection of personal essays and stories. I am not sure a book has ever filled my heart so much. So much hope. So much radical love. So much pride in what being an American can mean. So much appreciation of the differences that make up our collective we, and the strength it gives us all as individuals when we come together as a community to share those differences.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Madeline O'Rourke

    American Like Me is a wonderful collection of diverse stories centred around the mixing of cultures, oftentimes through immigration. I really was impressed by the variety of authors. Though they're all famous in some way, there are actors, singers, politicians, activists, and more; and on top of that, they all come from a variety of cultural backgrounds—including some Native Americans, which I thought was cool. Amongst the essays, there's a lot of divergence, too. Some short, some long; some funn American Like Me is a wonderful collection of diverse stories centred around the mixing of cultures, oftentimes through immigration. I really was impressed by the variety of authors. Though they're all famous in some way, there are actors, singers, politicians, activists, and more; and on top of that, they all come from a variety of cultural backgrounds—including some Native Americans, which I thought was cool. Amongst the essays, there's a lot of divergence, too. Some short, some long; some funny, some serious, some both; some that played with format. All of the difference amongst the essays only further drove home the overarching message about the value of diversity, and by extension, immigration. It's a timely topic and as someone who is not an immigrant, I enjoyed that each contributor focused on very different elements of their experience with immigration and life between cultures.

  10. 5 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!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gloria Mackay

    Such an emotional journey for both the writers and the reader.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Niamh

    As a global nation, we are struggling to pull together the divides that threaten to separate us. As governments shut-down over so-called 'border security', as people turn their backs on allies and groups that have promised laws and rights to the most vulnerable, we need voices of hope and rallying cries to bring us back to the core principals of our lives: to be kind. In this illuminating collection of personal essays, written by some of the most important men and women working in entertainment As a global nation, we are struggling to pull together the divides that threaten to separate us. As governments shut-down over so-called 'border security', as people turn their backs on allies and groups that have promised laws and rights to the most vulnerable, we need voices of hope and rallying cries to bring us back to the core principals of our lives: to be kind. In this illuminating collection of personal essays, written by some of the most important men and women working in entertainment and popular culture today, you see the person behind the media-pushed stereotype, behind the headlines and tweets. Lin Manuel-Miranda tells you excitedly about celebrating Dia de los Reyes Magos on January 6th, Uzo Aduba recounts the story of her name, Kal Penn marvels at his presence on Air Force One after the election of Barack Obama and America Ferrera, the brilliant mind behind this book, speaks frankly about seeing women like her in movies for the first time. Beautifully written and, at times, deeply moving, this collection not only highlights the thoughts of individuals with great connections to their heritage and their inherent American-ism, but the rich tapestry of diverse voices that we can listen to. Their writing is, ultimately, hopeful. Ferrera's conclusion to the book speaks loudest for all of the contributors- we are more than a society of one colour and one culture. For a moment of light inbetween all the shitty stuff that's happening in the world, I highly recommend you pick up this book and give yourself a movement to remember that there are people out there, every day, working to make society just a little bit better for us all.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anjuli

    Wow. Just, wow. I really loved this book. I’ve been reading a few stories a day and finally finished. I think this collection of essays is something that everyone should read. It really highlights that there are so many ways to be American.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Herman

    We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we're stopping a lot of them — but we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals. And we're taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that's never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It's crazy. President Trump American did not cherry-pick her We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we're stopping a lot of them — but we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals. And we're taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that's never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It's crazy. President Trump American did not cherry-pick her way to greatness. Instead, we created a system and infrastructure of opportunity that enables the pursuit of the American Dream through hard work. Congressman Joaquin Castro America Ferrera book “American Like Me” reflections on life between cultures come out during the most divisive period in decades in the argument over immigration role in building and maintaining our country. Our Nationalistic President has all but declared war against immigrates legal or otherwise, and he is using the hottest rhetoric he can to excite his base to build up the fear anger and hate for his own political ends. Ms. Ferrera’s book elegantly counters this fear with a lovely collection of stories 32 in number of different inspiring stories of Love and struggle and family. Uzo Aduba your family story is amazing and I want to watch you again in Orange is the new Black, knowing a bit more now about what inspired you. Michelle Kwan and Jeremy Lin, were inspirational in there respective struggles. A number of others Kumail Nanjiani, Wilmer Valderrama , and Liza Koshy, were also short but amazing uplifting reaffirmation of love of family and hope and life. There wasn’t any weak stories among these all were very interesting some fascinating but all very relevant to the discussion of immigration and what immigrants bring to the life of America I think this book properly demonstrates that it’s not a zero sum game, and it shouldn’t be a political football immigration is the essence of the American dream.

  15. 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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beatrice

    What a fitting collection of essays for 2018. Some essays were stronger than others. Despite that, I think all of the voices featured in this collection deserve to be heard. It is important to understand the American experience from ALL types of American voices. This is a book that helps steer a more empathetic conversation about what it means to be an American.

  17. 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.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Council

    “American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures” takes a close look at personal stories from writers, actors and actresses, comedians, athletes, politicians and more, about life between cultures. Some of the 31 authors were born in the U.S., others came to the U.S. at 10 years old, and others had multiple generations before them as U.S. citizens. But each of these authors share some semblance of one thing: trying to find themselves in two, or three, or more, cultures. America Ferrera, who “American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures” takes a close look at personal stories from writers, actors and actresses, comedians, athletes, politicians and more, about life between cultures. Some of the 31 authors were born in the U.S., others came to the U.S. at 10 years old, and others had multiple generations before them as U.S. citizens. But each of these authors share some semblance of one thing: trying to find themselves in two, or three, or more, cultures. America Ferrera, who reached out to each author to share his or her journey, struggled with finding an image of herself in the American narrative. Ferrera says, “I am 9 years old, and suddenly, I am wondering what do I call an American like me.” The stories reflect on everything from losing their cultural identity to fit in at school – like Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code – to exploring their religious roots - like Issa Rae, actress in HBO’s “Insecure” – to recognizing the endless support their parents gave – like Jeremey Lin, guard for the Brooklyn Nets. “Getting more familiar with the details of my lineage fills me with a better sense of what got me here, to where I am today, and how my story is directly connected to theirs. These stories remind me that I am a person who is here, in this country, for a reason,” says Randall Park, an American actor, comedian, writer, and director. Reading these first-person accounts from “American Like Me” makes you realize how many different cultures are present in America and the amazing differences we must celebrate and learn more about. To close out this review, we’ll end with quote from founder and creative director of Oh Joy!, Joy Cho: “I realized the best part of ME is how I stood out from the crowd.”

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    I loved this book. I have a biracial daughter and this opened my eyes to how she may view the world. On her Mexican side she is the first American - her dad let his visa expire - her grandmother came over undocumented. I want to teach her her Mexican culture, their traditions. We live in a small town and we have limited resources, it is sad in this day and age there is not much exposure to other cultures. I love that she is proud to say that she is Mexican- I found each story to be beautiful and I loved this book. I have a biracial daughter and this opened my eyes to how she may view the world. On her Mexican side she is the first American - her dad let his visa expire - her grandmother came over undocumented. I want to teach her her Mexican culture, their traditions. We live in a small town and we have limited resources, it is sad in this day and age there is not much exposure to other cultures. I love that she is proud to say that she is Mexican- I found each story to be beautiful and enlightening. I will share this book- and I will continue trying my hardest to show and support my daughter in learning about her cultures Mexican, Irish, German, English.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    This collection features essays from many different Americans across many different cultures and identities. It includes actors and actresses as well as sports figures, authors, activists, and more. Topics vary from serious to lighthearted, so there's something for everyone here. I wish it had been published in a smaller format - the large format seems unnecessarily to me and I think it'd have a greater chance at teen crossover appeal if it had the dimensions of a typical book. Come for your fav This collection features essays from many different Americans across many different cultures and identities. It includes actors and actresses as well as sports figures, authors, activists, and more. Topics vary from serious to lighthearted, so there's something for everyone here. I wish it had been published in a smaller format - the large format seems unnecessarily to me and I think it'd have a greater chance at teen crossover appeal if it had the dimensions of a typical book. Come for your favorites (America Ferrera! Roxane Gay! Lin-Manual Miranda! Michelle Kwan!), stay for a smorgasbord of perspectives on what it means to be American in all kinds of different ways.

  21. 4 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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Kingston

    “I think stories and songs come to us at different points in our lives. I will believe they are told and sung in different ways to reflect the mirror we need to look into. I carry many stories and songs.” ••• “Under the description for the purpose of her visit are scrawled the words: to live.” ••• This is a must-read, a collection of 32 short essays of living between cultures in America, that will make you laugh and also ugly-cry at the beauty and grief and life in these stories. More than anything “I think stories and songs come to us at different points in our lives. I will believe they are told and sung in different ways to reflect the mirror we need to look into. I carry many stories and songs.” ••• “Under the description for the purpose of her visit are scrawled the words: to live.” ••• This is a must-read, a collection of 32 short essays of living between cultures in America, that will make you laugh and also ugly-cry at the beauty and grief and life in these stories. More than anything at the end of this read, I feel so much hope at how big America is when we hear the voices of our neighbors, friends, and our own histories. I can not recommend this collection enough!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    In American Like Me, you will find essays from famous Americans who have struggled with feeling “other” in their home country and with finding a way to meld their cultural identities. Some of these essays are hilarious, some are heartbreaking, and most are a beautiful mixture of the two. Finding your sense of self is something we can all relate to and I learned a lot from the diverse authors in this book! – Michelle V.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    A beautiful book that I look forward to having on my own shelves and watching my between-cultures girls discover as they get older. All the essays moved me, but particularly Tanaya Winder and Martin Sensmeier (both writing from a Native perspective), and Uzo Aduba (a Nigerian-American).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    It’s difficult for me to rate this collection of stories written by authors who don’t write professionally. I appreciate their personal shares about the American experience and identify with the complexity of finding “identity within the cracks of culture.”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I found my own unrepresented story intertwined in the stories told in the book. There were moments of levity among moments of pain and triumph. It was a good mix and it was exciting reading about people I personally admire that are not highlighted in the mainstream public (Carmen Carrera).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nena

    I laughed, cried, sympathized and emphasized with the stories. I love how candid the stories were. I wish some of the stories were their own books. I highly recommend this book, especially in today's politics.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Felicia

    Refreshing to hear all these different American stories. I loved it and needed it. I wish I would have had it when I was growing up.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Audi Chastain

    I loved this book so much I’m sad I finished. Incredible.

  30. 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 🙏🏾

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