Beautiful Country is a memoir by Qian Julie Wang. Wang revisits the painful years of her early childhood growing up as an undocumented immigrant in New York City. Her parents left China (first her father, then Wang with her mother), and came to the United States with absolutely nothing. In those early years, her family faces extreme poverty and racism - all while living with the constant fear that they might be deported. Wang's story recounts the difficulties of those years with excruciating detail. While New York City seems enormous to most of us, Wang's world was actually very small. She knew little beyond the walls of her family's cramped apartment and that world was colored vividly by her parent's fear and real insecurity.
Qang struggles with malnutrition, her parent's sadness and frustration over the circumstances, and every day is eked out from the smallest strands of support. Wang is just a few years younger than me, and I found myself comparing the circumstances I grew up in to her stark experience just four hours away. Amazingly, Wang never seems hopeless. She learns to read and speak English on her own, and she scavenges together means for her own survival. In all, the book strikes a hopeful tone.
While the full text is too long to assign, I could definitely see using sections of this book as part of a class. Even an excerpt would explain how terrifying the world can be for immigration children. and how one's undocumented status can take over everyday life.