The Newcomers by Helen Thorpe
Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom

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The faculty at South High School struggles to help the students grapple with the new social climate...Nevertheless, Thorpe’s book is a reminder that in an era of nativism, some Americans are still breaking down walls and nurturing newcomers, the seeds of the great American experiment.
-NY Times

Synopsis

From an award-winning, “meticulously observant” (The New Yorker) writer comes a powerful and moving account of how refugee teenagers at a Denver public high school learn English and become Americans.

The Newcomers follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado, in an English Language Acquisition class created specifically for them. Speaking no English, unfamiliar with American culture, their stories are poignant and remarkable as they face the enormous challenge of adapting. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, after experiencing dire forms of cataclysm. Some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their original family.

At the center of The Newcomers is Mr. Williams, the dedicated and endlessly resourceful teacher of South’s very beginner English Language Acquisition class. If Mr. Williams does his job right, the newcomers will leave his class at the end of the school year with basic English skills and new confidence, their foundation for becoming Americans and finding a place in their new home.

With the US at a political crossroads around questions of immigration, multiculturalism, and America’s role on the global stage, Helen Thorpe presents a fresh and nuanced perspective. The Newcomers is a transformative take on these timely, important issues.
 

About Helen Thorpe

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Published November 14, 2017 by Scribner. 416 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by NINA BURLEIGH on Jan 09 2018

The faculty at South High School struggles to help the students grapple with the new social climate...Nevertheless, Thorpe’s book is a reminder that in an era of nativism, some Americans are still breaking down walls and nurturing newcomers, the seeds of the great American experiment.

Read Full Review of The Newcomers: Finding Refuge... | See more reviews from NY Times

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