... absorbing ... Refugee High may not provide the answers, but it contains important messages. Fishman suggests that we ignore our growing xenophobia at our peril, for these students are creative, resilient, adaptive and caring. Her book is also a shout-out to the lasting value of public education. Refugee High showcases a school that not only serves as a welcoming landing pad for immigrants and refugees, but also as a launching pad for talented, productive, future generations of Americans. Students can be heroes, too.
Trauma and fear darken the pages, but commitment from Sullivan’s staff provides hope in the book and the refugee students’ lives ... Fishman honors Sullivan’s work in turning around a previously failing school and caring for students, and fosters understanding for the disparate yet shared trauma of student refugee experiences.
The author adopts a 'fly on the wall' approach, sharing the voices of students ... The students shed light on the collision between their cultures and their lives in America ... Educators and general readers alike will find this vividly intimate work insightful.
[An] intimate and moving chronicle of the 2017–2018 school year at Sullivan High School in Chicago, where nearly half the student body was born in another country ... Deeply personal interviews reveal how Sullivan students—ID’d by first names only—struggle with unstable home lives and anxieties over their immigration status ... Fishman unearths the inner lives of her subjects with care and precision, and skillfully balances lighter moments (soccer games, TikTok dances) with harrowing turns of events. The result is a powerful portrait of resilience in the face of long odds.
The book is well researched and compassionate, particularly regarding the embattled educators at Sullivan, who often seem as traumatized as their students. Although Fishman is a sympathetic narrator, the emphasis is on struggle and tribulation rather than on the strength of character that her subjects exhibit and their occasional moments of levity and triumph. Additionally, many of them disappear for chapters at a time, leaving large gaps that detract from the narrative cohesion ... A diligently researched and moving yet disjointed story of young refugees and their guardians.