Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ask Me No Questions

The first person account of a family, illegally in our country from Bangledesh, as they deal with tighened immigration proceedures after 9/11. I felt two ways about this book and am anxious to hear what you all thought. First I thought it gave the reader an extremely good view into how life is for illegal immigrants- especially those from the middle east after 9/11. I have not come across many books that tackle this topic, an extremely important one. But, I have a feeling that in reality, life is much harder than how it was depicted in this novel. I think it would be an extremely valuable book for our students to read. So many of us, especially young people, take citizenship in our countryfor granted.

However, I wanted more from the characters- especially the two sisters- Nadira and Aisha. Did anyone else feel this way? I felt the author only took us so far then backed off. I loved Nadira's character- how she found her voice after being over shadowed by her older, smarter sister. I liked her a lot...and really felt a connection to her...found myself rooting for her. I also connected to Aisha and her struggles to get into college. But once again I felt myself wanting to know more about them...more about their struggles and pain. Anxious to hear what everyone thought!

19 comments:

Rascalii said...

Testing...

Rascalii said...

Testing

Rascalii said...

Hi, This is Darla...Perhaps I should write a book about the pitfalls of using computers..I seem to have a variety of problems with them. I am currenlty posting under Rascalii...I agree with Kathy about the subject matter. It is a good one since we know so very little about it. It kind of reminded me about the book we read last year about the young college student from Isreal. I never realized that people had such hard problems. From our perspective, we sometimes look upon newcomers as a possible threat to both our homeland security and job, college, financial,etc. opportunities. The book did show a lot of the emotions and way of life of the illegals. I, too, agree with Kathy that the author could have exposed more of the girls' personalities. I kept waiting for the "map" connection with the narrator, but felt that the book didn't really bring that idea together very well. I would have liked the characterization to be deeper, for example, Alisha's hair was described numerous times, but I feel I hardly know her. Perhaps that was the author's plan....to make them obscure, like the way they felt being in this country. The ending was predictable, but satisfying. I enjoyed reading the story and seemed to read it in no time at all. A great choice, Kathy..I would like to use this in the classroom.

Rascalii said...

I am so glad to get through that I want to write more. Another issue that comes to mind about the book that I felt was unresolved was the problem of body image. The narrator seems to be bothered by her sister's comments, but she loves to go back to Dunkin' Donuts with Lily. I wonder if Lily has a weight problem, too? I visualize her as having one. If so, why did the author bring up this teenage concern and not address it more fully. Granted, it is not the most important issue here, but I just would like her to go somewhere with it. She got me interested.....

Rascalii said...

After hearing Channel 10's national news last night and learning that we are 17th among industralized nations for the having the lowest percentage of high school dropouts and that our reading and math scores are way down, I think that it is time to start appreciating what we have and to take education more seriously. This book is a good spokesperson to that effect. People who come here from other places appreciate what we have and don't take our educational system for granted. Our students here need to read this book and realize that we should make the best of what we have. When we see what others go through just to get here and to stay here, our education should be invaluable to us..

Cathy said...

I read the book in one day. I felt the characters were sterotypical and the ending too predictable. Yes it is good for our students to see how others take education as important. Nadira thinking an 85 was a bad grade. However, why write about an illegal immigrant family. While I felt sorry for them, I did not want them to stay in the country. It said in the book how the father was law abiding in his country then why break our laws? I thought the book would have had a greater impact if it took on racial profiling after 9/11 of families that were leagal.Then the judge's decision would have made sense. I also did not like that as educators they said we are not immigration. Why shouldn't educators report illegal immigrants? I would report any other crime. The book suggests that these people fill jobs that we need. Well I think that legal immigrants can fill the same jobs. Illegal immigrants make it difficult for those who are legal. I felt bad for the presumed treatment of the father and uncle by immigration and hope that it was not accurate. But again it would have had a greater impact if they had been legal immigrants.

Rascalii said...

Cathy, I agree with you..

Rascalii said...

If these people are coming here illeaglly, what other illeagal acts are they willing to commit? I would not go to another country and expect a "free ride " in education. Heck, I don't expect to get a "free ride" here...
Thanks, Kathy for presenting such good issues to discuss. i love to vent...especially about important ideas like this one.

cvanslyk said...

When I first started reading this book, I thought it would be an excellent story to read in class. I have noticed that some students do not appreciate how very fortunate we are to live in this country and Marina Budhos really brought out how much the characters in the story wanted to stay here. However, when I got to the ending, I was very disappointed. I don't think it is right to teach students that it is allright to break laws. Abba had broken several immigration laws. Nadira had lied about the money. I really think I liked Auntie and Uncle better than Abba and Ma. For one thing they both worked. Ma didn't. They also didn't expect a "free ride" for any family members. Uncle stated that he had had enough and could not beg any more. He would rather be poor in a country where he was wanted and could feel at home. The fact that Aisha was selected as the valedictorian really bothered me as well. There were other students with the same average as she had. They may have had as many as struggles as she did or even more. So why does a person whose life is based on lies get rewarded? The other part of this story which was very annoying to me was the deal with Barnard. $3000 was not going to pay for Barnard. This again sounded like this family was expecting another "free ride" just because their daughter did well in school. This would be at the expense of other kids (or their parents) that have to pay higher and higher tuitions to compensate for those who get everything handed to them. Why is an illegal alien allowed to even get this far? Actually the more I think about this family, the more I dislike them. The author certainly managed to get my attention in this book.

Rascalii said...

mebefree
I agree, Charlene

Rascalii said...

I agree, Charlene

Rascalii said...

Freedom is so important and I appreciate my freedom. I want everyone to have freedom, but without taking advantage of the offerings. Everyone must contribute as much as they can to keep our country strong. Already, I feel our economy weakening by sending jobs elsewhere when we have poverty in our country. I don't want to sound selfish, but it's like putting on your air mask on an airplane. If you don't put on yours first, you may not be of any assistance to anyone else. We have got to take care of our own before we can help others.

Kim Seeley said...

When I began reading this book, I really liked it and thought maybe we could carry the book across content areas to Social Studies. However, the more I read the book, the more I disliked it. I agree with all of you on the points you have made in your blogs. First of all, I felt that Marina Mudhos really did not develop the characters adequately. She did do well with Nadira towards the end, but it was too little too late. I felt throughout the whole book that if they are here illegally, they should be deported or put in jail. This is probably horrible for me to say, but I did not feel bad for Abba at all. I felt bad for his kids because he put them in a horrible situation, but not for him. If you are in our country, you need to follow our rules. If you do not, you face the consequences. I know that sounds harsh, but after 9/11 I feel like my whole thought process about illegal immigrants changed. I wonder if I would have felt the same about this book if I read it prior to 9/11. I was disappointed that she didn't talk about the correlation between illegal immigrants such as this family and 9/11. I felt that she didn't go into enough detail that much of the crackdown on illegal immigrants has stemmed from 9/11. I felt that the solution in the courtroom at the end was way too easy... a spelling mistake?????? You would think our legal system would notice that before the process had come that far. Granted, we do not always have the best legal system, but that was ridiculous. I thought it was an easy solution to a difficult problem. I hate endings where the author ties everything up quickly and makes a "happy" resolution. Budhos would have been better off if she focused on the troubles of a family who was in our country legally and gave a more realistic account of what could happen to them based on them being from Bangladesh.

RKennedy said...

I read through this book very quickly and overall found enjoyable. I think that the subject this book attemtpted to cover was intriguing and timely. I do however, think that there were many things that could have been done better. I feel as though the book dragged at times and could have easily been a short story.

Many of you stated in your blogs that you do not feel bad for the family and you think that they were trying to get a "free ride". I did not get this impression at all. I thought that the family had been attempting to follow all the right steps to become legal but due to factors outside of their control things had been delayed and they ended up living illegally. On the end of pag 61 it states; "Ever since we came to America, there's been a chain of mistakes about our visas that has only gotten worse with time." I believe that they had hired a lawyer in an attempt to become legal but things kept falling through.

I saw Abba as a hard working father who was trying to give his family the best life possible. I cant imagine what it must be like coming to a completely new country, especially a country that connects your culture to the catastrophic events of 9/11.

Although, I did not think that this book was the best I have ever read it was not the fact that they were illegal that really bothered me. I think that the characters could have been better developed and many things within the story seemed to be loose threads. These could have been expanded or left out all together.

I do think the subject matter is important and it would be great to find a book that does a much better job at telling the story.

Amanda said...

I actually had a difficult time getting interested in this book, but found it easier to read as I read more. I too thought many aspects of this book were underdeveloped, ie. Nadira's map analogy and weight problem. I did like, however, that Nadira, who always felt like the weak one of the family, ended up being the only one to remain strong during an extremely difficult time for everyone. It was also nice to hear that her mom got out of the house and was able to interact more with people while she was waiting for her husband's proceddings. Aisha's change in attitude and behavior was very dramatic due to stresses at home that she felt she could not share with her friends or teachers. I wonder how many of our students feel the same way about things going on in their homes, things that put academics low on their list of priorities because they are just struggling to get their basic needs.
As far as the illegal status of the families portrayed in this book, I agree that they should be legal. I am not familiar with the process to become legal, but it did sound like the family attempted to get legal but their first lawyer was arrested for fraud and never filed their paperwork correctly. After that they saught the assistance of a new, legit, lawyer (Mr. Rashid) and I'm a bit unclear as to whether they were still trying to have that lawyer work on making them legal, but with the events of 9/11 it was taking forever, or if they stopped trying to gain legal status because they became comfortable with the way things were. Either way, it is wrong for detainees to be abused and treated the way Abba was during his time in jail. I understand the need to investigate suspicious behavior and to deal with people breaking the law, but just picking up illegal immigrants and trying to beat information out of them with very little evidence against them is wrong. Detainees should be treated at least as well as we treat our prisoners: food, water, showers, and play stations. This part of the story is what made me most upset and saddened that our country is scared into treating people this way. There have been many times in our history that have caused such a paranoia (communists, japanese) and looking back on those times i think we all feel it was handled poorly. While being cautious and guarded we still need to treat suspects humanely.

Kathy said...

WOW! This book certainly invoked a lot of strong feelings. Which I think is a wonderful thing. Because of this I think this book might be a great one to use with students...what great dialog and discussion it could start, especially since we do have some migrant workers in the area. So for all its faults I still think it is a book worthy of class use...if for nothing else to get students thinking about the issues of immigration, education, and even character development.

I agreed with many of your comments, however when I first read the book I was on the same page as Rebecca- I thought the family truly was trying to do the right thing but it was circumstances that we against them. After reading more blogs and talking with a few a you I may have to go back and re-read the begining of the book!

I really liked Darla's take on the character development. Maybe this was a devise the author used to emphasize their anonymity?

I also wonder if I had read this book right after 9/11 if my response would have been stronger?!

Jim West said...

Finally, I finished the book. I apologize to everyone for being so late, I just got caught up in things, and started it late.

Anyway, my thoughts on the book....I had a hard time getting into it, during the first chapter, and then as I got into the meat of things, the pages just flew by.

I have mixed feelings about illegal immigrants, but I felt that this family was doing what they could to become legal. However,they ran into many barriers beyond their control.

Regarding character development, I thought the author did a fabulous job. I think the intent was to give you just enough information to keep you turning the page to seek more. Ultimately, you were given just enough to get through the story, but you longed for more. I think including more detail into the minds of the characters would have weighed the story down, and it would not have been such a page turner.

Regarding the students being able to relate, I think this was a perfect story. Think back to the Whale Talk book. Some kids may have been represented in that book directly, (the less than popular) but may have been too embarrassed to admit it. Here, the connection is somewhat different. Most of our kids are NOT immigrants, but they can safely relate to some of the issues indirectly. (not being the smart one, fitting in with a clique, trouble at home that they hide from thier friends, pretending to be someone they are not, finding out who they really are, weight issues, etc) I don't know if that sounds clear and understandable, but I thought I would give it a shot.

I loved the fact that the younger, less "desireable" daughter was the one who pulled everyting together in the end. This proves that it is not always the smartest one or the prettiest one that makes the difference in the lives of others. You have to look past outward appearance to what is inside all of us. That is what makes the person.

The last point I wanted to make was regarding the book being a good read for our students....I completely think that this is an AWESOME book for everything everyone stated. Like it was said earlier, what awesome dialogue!!! Think about the debates you could have in class with this book!!! Kids love to argue and debate...think about how you could use this book to refine their critical and analytical thinking skills, persuasive speaking, problem-solving, and on and on!!! It makes me want to be an English teacher!!! Those skills are most important when you think about these kids entering the real world. The flaws of the book could be used as excellent issues to argue and discuss. How would your students handle the situation if they were in it? Self-reflection: How would they feel? Would they hide behind the fake image these girls put on, or would they be real, regardless of the consequences? Why or why not? So many ideas come to mind in how this book could be used.

In closing, I just wanted to say thanks to Kathy for picking this book. I probably would have never picked it up on my own, but because of this blog, I was blessed with the opportinity. Thanks!!!!!!!---Jim West

Kathy said...

Jim really did a great job of pulling this all together! See, it pays to wait and go last! I'm glad the book invoked a lot of response and emotions. Isn't that one of the reasons we read?? And I certainly agree with his comments about why it would be a great book to use in the classroom...to spark debate.

Thanks for everyones participation in this book. I love the dialog and exchanges. This is a great venue for discussion- I know how difficult it would be to meet on a regular basis to do this in "person!"

We have one more book on the agenda. Terry Trueman's book, Inside Out. I will try to get it all to you before break.

Kathy

chris klafehn said...

I agree that some students do not appreciate how very fortunate we are to live in the U.S. I was not happy with the ending. The messafe that it is okay to break the law seemed to contradict what we are telling students. Between the lying about money and breaking the immigration law, this book disappointed me as a reader. The only piece I did like was that a "free ride" was not something everyone is entitled too. After reading this book, I too thought about the events of 9/11. Perhaps the connection is still too close and that is the reason the author does not dive in deeper. I really did not enjoy this book and would not recommend it.