Brooke Hauser has written for several major publications, including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. The New Kids is her first book.
Hauser spent a year at the International High School in Brooklyn getting to know the students from day one, learning about their (for some) harrowing journeys to the United States, and the challenges and joys they faced during the school year.
Two articles do a particularly good job of reflecting the book. First, Rachel Simmons’ interview with Brooke Hauser, which begins with the criteria for being accepted to the school: “The purpose of the International High School is to teach English to recently arrived immigrants and refugees from around the world. To be eligible, students have to meet a few basic qualifications. They must have lived in the United States for fewer than four years. Prospective students take an English-language assessment test, and the joke is that they have to fail to get in. Once they do get in, students of all different ethnic backgrounds and academic levels are mixed together in classes.”
There’s also an excellent Huffington Post article about the book and especially the uncertain fate of the school’s graduates.
The extraordinary personal stories will draw teens into the issues of education, immigration and international relations that the book illuminates.
Adult/High School–In the tradition of Patricia Hersch’s A Tribe Apart (Fawcett, 1998) and Meredith Maran’s Class Dismissed (St. Martins, 2000), Hauser chronicles a year at International High in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. All of the students are newly arrived in the United States, and the author tells amazing stories of how they came to be here and how they struggled not only to learn English and other academic subjects, but also how they sometimes struggled just to stay alive and safe in a strange culture. Ngawang was spirited out of Tibet folded up in a suitcase. Mohamed from Sierra Leone was brought to a tony Connecticut town by a church as part of its outreach program. Jessica arrived from China alone only to be rejected by her father’s new family. All of these teens have a story to tell, and the author provides a lot of detail on their daily lives, their dreams, and their disappointments as they go through a year in an American high school that is staffed by teachers and staff who are extraordinarily caring and supportive, often providing “a second home.” Hauser “tried to see the students through the lenses they have provided,” and readers will be rewarded with a richer understanding of how our current immigration policies affect the futures of teens who are different from those born here and yet share so many similarities with teens everywhere.–Vicki Emery, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Fairfax County, VA