The New Kids by Brooke Hauser


7 Critic Reviews

Ms. Hauser’s book is a refreshing reminder of the hurdles newcomers to this country still face and how many defy the odds to overcome them.
-NY Times


Some walked across deserts and mountains to get here. Others flew in on planes. One arrived after escaping in a suitcase. And some won’t say how they got here.

These are “the new kids”: new to America and all the routines and rituals of an American high school, from lonely first days to prom. They attend the International High School at Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, which is like most high schools in some ways—its halls are filled with students gossiping, joking, flirting, and pushing the limits of the school’s dress code—but all of the students are recent immigrants learning English. Together, they come from more than forty-five countries and speak more than twenty-eight languages.

A singular work of narrative journalism, The New Kids chronicles a year in the life of a remarkable group of these teenage newcomers—a multicultural mosaic that embodies what is truly amazing about America.

Hauser’s unforgettable portraits include Jessica, kicked out of her father’s home just days after arriving from China; Ngawang, who spent twenty-four hours folded up in a small suitcase to escape from Tibet; Mohamed, a diamond miner’s son from Sierra Leone whose arrival in New York City is shrouded in mystery; Yasmeen, a recently orphaned Yemeni girl who is torn between pursuing college and marrying so that she can take care of her younger siblings; and Chit Su, a Burmese refugee who is the only person to speak her language in the entire school. The students in this modern-day Babel deal with enormous obstacles: traumas and wars in their countries of origin that haunt them, and pressures from their cultures to marry or to drop out and go to work. They aren’t just jostling for their places in the high school pecking order—they are carving out new lives for themselves in America.

The New Kids is immersion reporting at its most compelling as Brooke Hauser takes us deep inside the dramas of five International High School students who are at once ordinary and extraordinaryin their separate paths to the American Dream. Readers will be rooting for these kids long after reading the stories of where they came from, how they got here, and where they are going next.

About Brooke Hauser

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Brooke Hauser has written for "The New York Times", "Los Angeles Times", and "Allure", among other publications. She lives in western Massachusetts.
Published September 20, 2011 by Atria Books. 338 pages
Genres: Other, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The New Kids
All: 7 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 0


Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jul 01 2011

A well-balanced narrative of varied humanity, captured in their simultaneously glorious and worrisome diversity.

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NY Times

Reviewed by Sam Roberts on Sep 09 2011

Ms. Hauser’s book is a refreshing reminder of the hurdles newcomers to this country still face and how many defy the odds to overcome them.

Read Full Review of The New Kids | See more reviews from NY Times

Huffington Post

Reviewed by Huffington Post on Nov 07 2011

The Times piece led her to write a book chronicling one year in the lives of the students who attended this school.

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Education Week

Reviewed by Catherine Cardno on May 24 2012

I recently spent two evenings inhaling The New Kids, and I highly recommend that you run right out and pick up a copy yourself to read.

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School Stories

Reviewed by Ankita Rao on Mar 14 2012

The author chose her sources well, and the characters undergo visible changes, both personally and academically.

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A Striped Armchair

Reviewed by A Striped Armchair on Sep 21 2011

I think Hauser set out to draw readers in and make them empathise with the students and the wide range of dilemmas they face, and she achieved her goal admirably!

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Reviewed by Marjolein on Jul 27 2011

The New Kids is a realistic view into the daily life at the International High School of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

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Tara Leigh

Tara Leigh 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list