... takes the seemingly banal into the realm of the profound ... honest and beautiful ... In the hands of someone less subtle and humane, Ms. Hakakian’s exercise could be seen as presumptuous. Hers is a 'guide,' yes, but of an amicable kind. She offers counsel to readers, not commandments, and although her book could be seen as a love letter to America, it is one that’s been written by an exacting lover who isn’t blind to this country’s flaws ... She is not above poking gentle fun.
Although narrated as advice for incoming immigrants, this personal, yet practical account is intended to challenge misconceptions and biases that native-born U.S. citizens have toward documented and undocumented immigrants. It is highly recommended for all.
... serves as both a primer for immigrants and a knowledgeable alternative viewpoint on a fractured nation. The narrative is pleasingly intimate, as well, with the author speaking directly to 'you,' not only exploring her own experiences, but also using the exercise to emphasize the shared anxiety faced by any stranger in a strange land. She breaks the book into two equally useful and thoughtful halves ... Hakakian somehow manages to make the drudgeries of entry into a new culture both fascinating and frightening. In the second half, the author takes a more introspective approach and adds useful cultural and historical context to the experiences of immigrants when they arrive in America ... his is heavy stuff, not least Hakakian’s breakdown of the love-hate relationship between immigrants and their chosen country as well as a peek behind the curtain at 'Anti-American Vitriol.' The author maintains a smooth narrative pace punctuated by intriguing anecdotes about everything from the first Persian to meet an American president to the biography of American asparagus ... An enlightening reminder about human rights and civic responsibility, all too relevant in a troubled time.