After escaping a Syrian prison, Ibrahim Aldabaan and his family fled the country to seek protection in America. Among the few refugees to receive visas, they finally landed in JFK airport on November 8, 2016, Election Day. The family had reached a safe harbor, but woke up to the world of Donald Trump and a Muslim ban that would sever them from the grandmother, brothers, sisters, and cousins stranded in exile in Jordan.
Welcome to the New World tells the Aldabaans’ story. Resettled in Connecticut with little English, few friends, and even less money, the family of seven strive to create something like home. As a blur of language classes, job-training programs, and the fearsome first days of high school (with hijab) give way to normalcy, the Aldabaans are lulled into a sense of security. A white van cruising slowly past the house prompts some unease, which erupts into full terror when the family receives a death threat and is forced to flee and start all over yet again. The America in which the Aldabaans must make their way is by turns kind and ignorant, generous and cruel, uplifting and heartbreaking.
Delivered with warmth and intimacy, Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan's Welcome to the New World is a wholly original view of the immigrant experience, revealing not only the trials and successes of one family but showing the spirit of a town and a country, for good and bad.
Educators and instructors should also request a teacher's guide for Welcome to the New World, filled with engaging prompts and insightful activities for your classroom. Email [email protected] for digital access.
"Welcome to the New World could not have come at a better time. Deceptively simple and direct, it’s a perfect antidote to the suspicion and xenophobia that threatens this country’s rich tradition of immigration. The Aldabaans lived through a distant war, but they are utterly relatable, and therein lies this book’s great success."—Barry Blitt, cartoonist and illustrator, The New Yorker
"Powerful and moving . . . Its granular, journalistic approach takes you to places rarely imagined in terms of the refugee experience . . . truly thought-provoking."—The Guardian
"Such a gripping story, filled with heartbreak and hope, about a family in search of the elusive dream that is America in the age of Trump. It reminds us that behind words like 'refugee' and 'immigrant' are ordinary people, beautiful in their complexity, diverse in their experiences, with stories that must be told."—R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder and White Bird
"Our country tends to view refugees as a faceless group of either pitiable victims or job-stealing strangers. Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan have zoomed in very, very close on a single family that we truly get to know. It is impossible to read this moving book without caring about the Aldabaans. In these polarized times, that is a gift of incomparable value."—Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
"Deeply reported and beautifully told, Welcome to the New World is the story of our time—immigration to America—seen through the eyes of one Syrian family who will make you understand the trials and delights, day by day, behind the fog of headlines."—Emily Bazelon, author of Charged
"Welcome to the New World is a project of the greatest humanity and care. Kudos to the authors for their profound artistry and for listening and sharing these stories with such detailed attention. As the child of a Palestinian refugee, I hear the truth of my father's life and so many others echoing here—the utter bravery, the endless hope. Americans need this book to help them understand the sorrow that makes people leave their homeland, the hardships they face, and the resilient dreams they never stop carrying."—Naomi Shihab Nye, Young People's Poet Laureate and author of Habibi
"By turns heartbreaking and amusing, Welcome to the New World shows the bittersweet life the Aldabaans left behind and the pressure put on them to become independent within months of their arrival . . . This is journalism at its finest."—Booklist (starred review)
Reviews from Goodreads