The New Kids
Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens
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 Brooklyn’s International High School at Prospect Heights, where all the students are recent immigrants learning English. Together, they come from more than forty-five countries and speak more than twenty-eight languages.
An inspiring work of narrative journalism, The New Kids chronicles a year in the lives of teenage newcomers who are at once ordinary and extraordinary in their paths to the American Dream. 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 suitcase to escape Tibet; Mohamed, a diamond miner’s son from Sierra Leone whose past is shrouded in mystery; and Chit Su, a Burmese refugee who is the only person to speak her language in the entire school.
The students deal with enormous obstacles: traumas and wars in their native countries 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.
Brooke Hauser discusses THE NEW KIDS
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Read an Excerpt
Everybody has The Outfit—the outfit they bought for America. The students who have lived in the country for longer have learned how to blend in better, disappearing in brand-name sneakers and low-riding jeans. But each September on the first day of school, the new kids are easy to spot.
Some arrive in their native dress, like the Bangladeshi girls in colorful shalwar kameez, or the African boy who walked the halls in goatskin sandals lined with bristly hair. Others try to fit in and fail, like the boy who came from a country that no one had heard of. He wanted American blue jeans... see more
Reading Group Guide
In The New Kids, journalist Brooke Hauser takes readers inside the International High School at Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, New York, and into the lives of its students—all recent immigrants who are learning English. Among the memorable students she follows: Ngawang, who escaped Tibet by hiding inside of a small suitcase for twenty-four hours; Mohamed, a diamond miner’s son from Sierra Leone who dreams of becoming a doctor; and Yasmeen, a Muslim girl from Yemen who has her feet in two worlds. Despite their different backgrounds, all of the students are adjusting to life in a new land and forging their own paths to the American Dream.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. The New Kids is divided into three parts: Passages, Between Worlds, and Almost American. How do those titles reflect the narrative arc of the book and the students’ stories? What does it mean to be almost American? What does “being American” mean to you?
2. Many students at see more