A journalist offers an intimate look at the lives of two refugee women—a Christian from Myanmar and a Muslim from Syria—as they settle into life in Austin, Texas, linking their stories with the history of the nation's refugee policies.
... simply brilliant, both in its granular storytelling and its enormous compassion. This book should be required reading for anyone trying to understand the challenges of getting to and surviving in the United States in the Trump era, and it would make an excellent, subversive gift for those who believe that closing our borders is the best way to keep America strong ... offers a crash course in how shifts in public attitudes and, in turn, United States policy have helped and hindered people desperate to escape the poverty or violence in their homelands ... What makes this book so different from other works that tell similar stories is the talent and doggedness of Goudeau, who spent years working with refugees in Austin, and brings an insider’s authority to the page. But she also clearly grasps that nonfiction narratives like these rise and fall on the small details that reveal a character’s humanity; Goudeau understands the metaphorical power of a beloved courtyard where family gatherings will never occur again, and the fear inspired by the sideways glance of a newly minted government soldier who may or may not be a friend on any given day ... Reading After the Last Border will make you wish that more Americans would take a critical look at themselves and ask whether we are who we want to be, or whether we have lost our allegiance to the dreams that still inspire so many to try to reach our shores.
... compelling ... For Goudeau, who is a journalist and has worked with refugees in Austin for more than a decade, this work is not only urgent, it’s personal ... Goudeau intersperses these chapters with the evolution of U.S. policy toward refugee resettlement from the late 19th century to the current moment, giving readers just enough context to understand the scope of our country’s policies ... Based on two years of interviews and longer friendships, Goudeau’s profiles bear the hallmark of deep journalism based on trust, listening and extensive research. She not only puts names and stories to the refugees that we so often lump together as a faceless mass, but also painstakingly gets the details and nuance of their stories right. She does not shy away from detailing the suffering and sacrifice of each of their journeys; her thorough reporting combined with attention to detail and plot create a work of narrative-driven nonfiction that reads like the best novels ... At a time when discussions are happening about privilege and power and there is welcome scrutiny around who gets to tell what stories, I believe Goudeau’s book is an example of how to leverage one’s privilege to help tell the stories of those who might not otherwise be heard. Ultimately what makes this book’s truths resonate is the spirit of collaboration out of which it was born combined with Goudeau’s commitment to the highest standards of journalistic ethics. It reveals a trust and tenderness between journalist and subjects ... We are living through a time where our borders are more sealed off than ever, and those in need of refuge are being turned away. Goudeau makes it clear that our moral compass with respect to refugees is broken, the arrow spinning around and around, looking for the next place to land. Her deeply moving book points to exactly where that place should be.
Goudeau illustrates that though stories of refugees like Mu Naw are everywhere, they can be hard to access and understand, even for those who have known the refugees for years ... As Goudeau’s careful history demonstrates, attitudes toward refugees are shifting, and the current rhetoric surrounding refugee resettlement uneasily echoes the rhetoric of 80 years past. To keep history from repeating itself, it is time to understand the roots of refugee resettlement in the U.S. and to look fully into the faces of those who are being affected.