Title: Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares
Author: Aarti Shahani
Publisher: Celadon Books
ISBN: 978-1-250-20475-2
On Sale Date: 10/01/2019
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook

NPR Silicon Valley Correspondent Aarti Shahani shares the story of her immigrant family: shopkeepers who got a taste of the American Dream, and the American nightmare.

After arriving in New York City in the 1980s, the Shahani family opens a small electronics store. Aarti, their youngest child, wins a scholarship to one of Manhattan’s most elite prep schools. They see themselves well on their way to the American Dream, until their fortunes turn. When they mistakenly sell watches and calculators to the wrong people—members of the Cali drug cartel—the family gets caught in a legal case that destroys them, incrementally, over the course of 15 years.

Immigrant Daughter is the hearing the Shahani family never had, despite all the time they spent being judged. Aarti’s father never recovers from the humiliation. And Aarti, who has the chance to leave and live a better life, forever feels singularly defined by his (and their) crisis. She’s torn between moving on and looking back, between the adventure in her soul and the melancholy in her heart.

This family saga is full of colorful characters: a feisty mom who’ll take sewing shears to anyone who threatens her blood; a big brother, caught between the Old World and New, who agrees to an arranged marriage; a big sister who refuses to lose her sense of humor, even in the cells of Rikers Island.

As we follow the Shahanis’ extreme ups and downs, Here We Are becomes a fascinating insider account of the elusive nature of legality and of the deep schism in American culture by which the “deserving” are deified and the “undeserving” demonized, at times relentlessly.

Ultimately, Here We Are is a coming-of-age immigration story, a love letter from a daughter to her father.

  • Aarti Shahani
    Aarti Shahani

    Aarti Shahani is a Technology Correspondent for NPR based in Silicon Valley. She has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a regional Edward R. Murrow Award, and an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award. Before journalism, she was a community organizer in New York City, helping prisoners and families facing deportation. She authored a study of immigrants inside Rikers Island that became pivotal to a successful campaign to sever ties between the jail and the Department of Homeland Security and shape the national sanctuary cities movement. Her activism was honored by the Union Square Awards and Legal Aid Society. Shahani received a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago. She was the youngest recipient of the Charles H. Revson Fellowship at Columbia University and is an alumna of A Better Chance, Inc. Shahani grew up in Flushing, Queens—in the most diverse zip code in the country—and believes every American should visit her hometown to understand what makes America great.

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