June is Immigrant Heritage Month – Nonfiction Titles

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June is Immigrant Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the diversity and shared American heritage of immigrants throughout time. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh welcomes all individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds and celebrates the diversity that is Pittsburgh today. Take a look at our Library Welcome Center webpage on our website that includes videos in multiple languages and online language learning resources, as well as our recent blog post You Are Welcome at the Library. In celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month, discover a selection of nonfiction titles that explore multicultural stories from individuals all over the world found through our Overdrive and Hoopla digital services.

If you are new to our eResources, view our tutorial videos on how to get started. If you are interested in exploring your own heritage, be sure to check out our Genealogy resources on our website and our Virtual Genealogy videos on our Facebook page! If you do not have a library card, you can sign up for one free here. If you would like more recommendations tailored to your interests, fill out our Book Recommendation form and a librarian will curate a list for you! Contact Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on any of our social media platforms or email us at info@carnegielibrary.org if you have any questions.

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Brother, I’m Dying

From the age of four, Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for America. And so she was both elated and saddened when, at twelve, she joined her parents and youngest brothers in New York City. As Edwidge made a life in a new country, adjusting to being far away from so many who she loved, she and her family continued to fear for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorated. In 2004, they entered into a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Call Me American: A Memoir

Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these real Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies. Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it suddenly became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Forced to flee to Kenya, and eventually landing in America, this is the story of Abdi Nor Iftin’s journey. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

The Devil’s Highway: A True Story

Even attempting to cross the border with a group is no guarantee of safe passage.  A finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, Urrea’s work is the true story of a group of men who attempted a border crossing through the Devil’s Highway, a region in southern Arizona that is so dangerous that even U.S. Border Control is reluctant to travel through it. 26 men started the journey, only 12 survived. You can also check out this title as eAudiobook on Overdrive/Libby and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

The Distance Between Us: A Memoir

Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in this story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries. As her parents make the dangerous trek across the Mexican border to “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side) in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced into the already overburdened household of their stern grandmother. When their mother at last returns, Reyna prepares for her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America

Funny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas’s wonderfully engaging family: her engineer father, a sweetly quixotic dreamer who first sought riches on Bowling for Dollars and in Las Vegas, and later lost his job during the Iranian revolution; her elegant mother, who never fully mastered English (nor cared to); her uncle, who combated the effects of American fast food with an army of miraculous American weight-loss gadgets; and Firoozeh herself, who as a girl changed her name to Julie, and who encountered a second wave of culture shock when she met and married a Frenchman, becoming part of a one-couple melting pot. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were thunder. In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries, searching for safety–perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. Then, when Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States; there, in Chicago, their lives diverged. You can also check out this title as eAudiobook on Overdrive/Libby and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided

Diane Guerrero was just fourteen years old on the day her parents were detained and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions

Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli worked as a translator for the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services in New York from 2014 to 2015. Her job was to ask unaccompanied and undocumented minors who had fled Central America for United States a 40-question survey. Their answers to these questions would impact their ability to seek asylum in the United States. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla, as eAudiobook on Overdrive/Libby, and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

‘Tis: A Memoir

Frank McCourt lands in New York at age nineteen, in the company of a priest he meets on the boat. He gets a job at the Biltmore Hotel, where he immediately encounters the vivid hierarchies of this “classless country,” and then is drafted into the army and is sent to Germany to train dogs and type reports. When Frank returns to America in 1953, he works on the docks, but somehow Frank knows that he should be getting an education, and though he left school at fourteen, he talks his way into New York University. There, he falls in love with the quintessential Yankee, long-legged and blonde, and tries to live his dream. You can also check out this title as eAudiobook on Hoopla and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Unaccompanied

Javier Zamora was nine years old when he traveled 4,000 miles unaccompanied from El Salvador to the United States to be reunited with his parents. Zamora’s poetry collection is an unwavering look at the border, the politics of the border, and those that are left behind never to be seen again. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League

Dan-el Padilla Peralta, came here legally with his family, was living the American dream with his family until their visas lapsed and they found themselves homeless in New York City. There, Dan-el met Jeff, who was struck by Dan-el’s passion for learning and got him on track for education to Collegiate, then to Princeton where he thrived. And also where he made the momentous decision to come out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he gave the salutatorian’s traditional address in Latin at his commencement. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

The Undocumented Americans

Looking beyond the flashpoints of the border or the activism of the DREAMers, Cornejo Villavicencio explores the lives of the undocumented—and the mysteries of her own life. She finds the singular, effervescent characters across the nation often reduced in the media to political pawns or nameless laborers. The stories she tells are not deferential or naively inspirational but show the love, magic, heartbreak, insanity, and vulgarity that infuse the day-to-day lives of her subjects. You can also check out this title as eAudiobook on Overdrive/Libby and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You

Aged eight, Dina Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother and lived in the crumbling shell of an Italian hotel-turned-refugee camp. Eventually she was granted asylum in America. She settled in Oklahoma, then made her way to Princeton University. In this book, Nayeri weaves together her own vivid story with the stories of other refugees and asylum seekers in recent years, bringing us inside their daily lives and taking us through the different stages of their journeys, from escape to asylum to resettlement. You can also check out this title as eAudiobook on Hoopla, as eBook on Hoopla, as eAudiobook on Overdrive/Libby, and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration & Displacement

Tracing his story of becoming a US citizen, José Orduña’s memoir explores the complex issues of immigration and assimilation. JHe chronicles the process of becoming a North American citizen in a post-9/11 United States. Intractable realities, rooted in the continuity of US imperialism to globalism, form the landscape of Orduña’s daily experience, where the geopolitical meets the quotidian. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.