"The American dream is still alive and well for anyone who dares to challenge the obstacles to his or her dreams."

One man came to America after holding down a comfortable job in the hotel industry that had been decimated by a hurricane. He came with a visa but overstayed it. Another came from a middle-class family in Brazzaville, Congo. She ended up in Russia before finding work in America. A third immigrant came from Poland on a visitor’s visa to spend three weeks with her grandmother, but instead of returning to her home country, she found work and began studying English. These are just three of the stories in Kennedy’s book, which is a refreshing, behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like to be an immigrant or the child of immigrants.

The so-called “immigrant experience” is difficult to define because each story is unique. Immigrants of all backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicities, and faiths arrive in the U.S. each year because they want the opportunity to earn degrees, work, support their families, and build lives for themselves—simple hopes not unlike those of most Americans. Although each person has a different story, there are common threads that bind them together. Most immigrants have an ironclad work ethic, the desire to better themselves through education and ESL classes, and a great appreciation for the freedoms and opportunities of their adopted country.

The author and his wife both came to America legally when they were younger. For countless others, getting that coveted green card isn’t so easy. Many of them try, but are rejected, and must then live in fear of deportation if they’re discovered. Because of that fear, undocumented immigrants rarely have a voice. Kennedy has made an invaluable contribution toward humanizing immigrants who are so often represented in unjustly unfavorable terms in the public eye.

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