• Mel Leslie

Book club [August 2020]



I have been on a path of learning about anti-racism and broadening my viewpoint of what others that live in this country go through on a daily basis. Reading is an escape for me, but I also use it to educate myself and learn about things bigger than my small world. Living in the rural Midwest can feel like you are living in a vacuum bubble. I am done being naïve and ignorant to the fact that there are people struggling to get by each day and I am making it a point to read and share their stories.


For the August My Night's Book Clubbed pick, I am doing things a little bit differently. Rather than having two choices to vote between, I have selected one book we will read and discuss on August 30th via Instagram DMs. This month's book will be The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. An undocumented immigrant herself, Karla graduated from Harvard and sought out to write the book that would impact thousands by sharing stories of undocumented Americans from across the nation. I will facilitate the conversation a little differently and send out the discussion questions early so that we can have a productive conversation. I am looking forward to learning from you all and to have these hard discussions.


Below is the August 2020 virtual book club choice. Join this month in the comments below or on Instagram @mynightsbooked. Discussion will take place via Instagram group chat on Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 8:00 pm central time.


Make sure to tag me @mynightsbooked and use hashtag #mynightsbookclubbed when you post throughout the month.

All are welcome, so invite your friends!


Genre: Nonfiction


Choice:


The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio


Synopsis:


Writer Karla Cornejo Villavicencio was on DACA when she decided to write about being undocumented for the first time using her own name. It was right after the election of 2016, the day she realized the story she'd tried to steer clear of was the only one she wanted to tell. So she wrote her immigration lawyer's phone number on her hand in Sharpie and embarked on a trip across the country to tell the stories of her fellow undocumented immigrants--and to find the hidden key to her own.


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 nation of singular, effervescent characters 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.


In New York, we meet the undocumented workers who were recruited into the federally funded Ground Zero cleanup after 9/11. In Miami, we enter the ubiquitous botanicas, which offer medicinal herbs and potions to those whose status blocks them from any other healthcare options. In Flint, Michigan, we learn of demands for state ID in order to receive life-saving clean water. In Connecticut, Cornejo Villavicencio, childless by choice, finds family in two teenage girls whose father is in sanctuary. And through it all we see the author grappling with the biggest questions of love, duty, family, and survival.


In her incandescent, relentlessly probing voice, Cornejo Villavicencio combines sensitive reporting and powerful personal narratives to bring to light remarkable stories of resilience, madness, and death. Through these stories we come to understand what it truly means to be a stray. An expendable. A hero. An American.

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