... riveting ... a bruising critique of colonialism ... This story is heart-rending, but perhaps more compelling is Aarti's struggle to understand her father ... If you're moved by frequent calls to deport so-called criminal or undocumented immigrants and refugees, please read Here We Are ... contains multiple messages: the value of grit and hope and determination; the relentless work immigrant families undertake just to tread water; the fortitude and generosity of such families; and the gaping flaws in American justice. These messages risk going unheard, however, if readers fail to acknowledge that unless your ancestors arrived in chains or were indigenous, you, too, likely hail from immigrants who cut a few corners to survive.
Shahani's insightful first book paints a layered and engaging picture of her family and their joys and struggles ... asks compelling questions about what it means to belong in this country ... [Shahani's] family emerges in vivid, textured detail ... Shahani pulls no punches in detailing the government's treatment of immigrants accused or convicted of even minor crimes, particularly those with a green card as well as those with non-permanent immigration status. She details the hopelessness of legal battles, the violence endemic to Rikers and other prisons, and the mixture of emotions when her father was finally released ... the system, and many of its challenges, remain exactly the same, and the questions Aarti Shahani asks in her book are still entirely relevant ... The Shahanis' story, like that of so many immigrants, is a mixture of tragedy and hope, and Aarti highlights both, along with her deep love for her father ... a searing exposé of the U.S. criminal justice system and its glaring flaws, and a love letter from an impetuous, outspoken daughter to her soft-spoken, hardworking father. It goes beyond the scripted immigrant narrative to highlight the Shahanis in their complicated humanity, and it makes an insistent case for readers to do the same. It is at once a statement from Aarti to her dad--we will keep fighting for you until the end--and a declaration by millions of immigrants: we are part of this country, and we are not going anywhere. Clear-eyed and compulsively readable, shot through with compassion, humor and heart, Here We Are is a quintessential immigrant story and an urgent call for change.
It’s clear that [Shahani's] passion for justice shines through ... This thought-provoking and thoroughly engrossing memoir offers the story of Shahani’s experience, as well as those of other families who, though they did not find the American Dream, nevertheless found home.