The American Dream?: A Journey on Route 66 Discovering Dinosaur Statues, Muffler Men, and the Perfect Burrito

Aug. 2019. 160p. Tr $37.32. ISBN 9781541578524; pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781942186373.
Gr 8 Up–Khor was born in Malaysia and immigrated to the United States, eventually becoming a citizen. In this graphic memoir, they record their journey along the historic Route 66 to learn more about America, trying to understand how, as an immigrant, they fit in. Vivid watercolors and a thoughtful narrative bring each stop to life, cataloging quirky Americana, interesting people, and the remains of towns that disappeared as travelers deserted Route 66 for more modern highways. The art is warm and vibrant and, when depicting open vistas and night skies, breathtaking. The writing turns introspective as Khor discusses their impressions as an immigrant and person of color. They feel rejected when they see the “American owned” signs (code for “not South Asian”) on motels in New Mexico, embraced when they find a strong immigrant community in Texas, and conflicted at how Native American culture has been promoted through commercialization. This is one person’s story, but it reflects the complex experience of many immigrants trying to understand where they belong in this country.
VERDICT This beautiful memoir raises thoughtful questions about what it means to be American. A strong addition to most collections.–Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, Oakland

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