A nonfiction narrative based on Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal's true-life journey from the unjust political system of their homeland in Ghana through the chaos of the United States' failing immigration system.
Meno vividly shows how migrants seeking refuge are inhumanely treated in many countries — disappeared into jails and detention centers, forced to pay bribes to law enforcement, left without recourse if they are robbed, and threatened with death. But, disappointingly for a novelist, his writing is often clunky or jarring ... The imprecise descriptions often dilute the men’s otherwise absorbing recollections of their journeys while black and undocumented ... Meno strives to make convincing cases for why Seidu and Razak had no choice but to leave Ghana — his account of Razak’s dissatisfaction with his country’s politics from an early age can seem especially strained — yet their reasons for leaving are not the only point ... It’s distracting, then, that Meno’s depictions of Ghana are marred by stereotypes and confusion ... By painting Ghana with clichés, Meno ends up reducing the country to a stock villain ... The two men tend to blur together as Meno toggles back and forth between their back stories and their experiences on the migrant trail; we don’t get a clear picture of their distinctive personalities, tics and desires. Their similar reactions of fear, anger and disbelief along the way feel repetitive.
... complexly rendered protagonists ... The narrative is dispiriting, as Meno documents the Kafkaesque, for-profit reality of today’s immigration morass, but Meno writes deftly, with a fine sense of detail and place, bringing an all-too-common story to life ... A well-paced and engaging account, highly relevant to current political debates.