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The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  457 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
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 International High School at Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, which is lik ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Free Press
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YALSA 2012 Best of the Best
78th out of 82 books — 60 voters
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2012 Alex Awards Winners
8th out of 10 books — 11 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,419)
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Nov 07, 2011 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just a few pages into this book, I was completely hooked. The stories are fascinating and prove once again, à la Anne Fadiman or Tracy Kidder, that nonfiction can be just as riveting as fiction. The reader is constantly going back and forth between reliving moments of his/her own high school experiences -- flirting, trying desperately to fit in, walking through noisy hallways and using bathrooms covered in graffiti -- and being amazed at what these kids have lived through. Hauser doesn't just sc ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Lindsey rated it really liked it
All though this book introduces many immigrants from many different backgrounds, there were three that were clearly the focus:

1. Jessica--A Chinese student with a boarding school background and English language courses in her native country--Her father replaced her and her mother with a new family in the US. When she came to New York, her father's new wife kicked her out so now she lives on her own in a small room her father rents for her in the apartment of a family friend.

2. Yasmeen--A studen
Aug 22, 2011 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author of this book followed a number of students and teachers through a year at International High School in Brooklyn. International is a unique school in that all the students enrolled there are recent emigrants with limited to no English language skills. I went into it expecting to read something slightly different. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the cover on it being used to promote purchase of the book indicated that it was along the same lines as the book "There are ...more
Oct 29, 2011 Terry rated it it was amazing
Absolutely a fantastic non-fiction book. I rarely read non-fiction but
Brooke Hauser writes a non-fiction book that brought tears to my eyes
and pride for a profession that is so often belittled and certainly
one that is underpaid. The teachers in this book are caring people who
do everything in their power to help their students succeed. Although
I have never met these teachers personally, I have met many teachers just like
them throughout my 34 year teaching career. I have also met students who
Oct 03, 2012 Shan rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shan by: Meghann
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a vivid portrait of an unusual high school, whose students have to deal with arranged marriages, unconventional living situations, and the fear of deportation along with the usual teenage concerns of what to wear, where you'll go to college, and whether you'll be asked to prom. The stories of Mohamed and Yasmeen are particularly compelling, and Hauser has a gift for showing the many facets of the people she’s writing about. Even the most minor players don’t feel one-dimensional. Highly r ...more
From the back cover:

'Some walked across deserts and mountains to get here. One arrived after escaping in a suitcase. And others 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 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 t
Shaeley Santiago
Mar 22, 2012 Shaeley Santiago rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ELL & high school teachers
Wow! This book is my job on steroids. I work with ELLs, but not at a school full of them like the International High School at Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY. The writer follows several teens at the school and tells us their stories, going back to their home countries and telling about their journeys to the U.S. The diversity in New York means there are some in-cred-ible (as in unbelievable) stories of how the students even got to New York, like Ngawang's story of leaving Nepal for India hidden for ...more
I'm about halfway through the book right now and I find myself torn - I love the concept and the student stories are incredible. However, the writing does not display the students or the school in the most compelling fashion. It's as if the book is written somewhere between journalism (not surprising considering the author's background) and fiction and it fails to engage me. I find the author to be too biased and she takes too many liberties with her subjects; how can she know what they were thi ...more
Jenni Frencham
I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. I did enjoy the stories of the different students as they came to the States, and their transition into an American high school. I would have enjoyed this more if it had been told from the perspective of one of the teachers or had been given more continuity. Also, I don't really think this is a book that teens would enjoy. The other award-winning book about immigrants would likely appeal more to teens, as the stories are considerably shorter ...more
Alexa Troain
Nov 05, 2015 Alexa Troain rated it really liked it
Book Review (Nonfiction)

The New Kids by Brooke Hauser is a real-life drama about immigrants from all over the world coming to a school called Brooklyn’s International High School at Prospect Heights. These students come from more than forty-five countries and speak more than twenty-eight different languages. In this book, there are many stories on how these immigrants got to the school. One got here because her dad abandoned her, one got here by walking across deserts and mountains and another o
Lisa Biskup
Feb 09, 2015 Lisa Biskup rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. It brought back memories of when I taught immigrant students in California as a bilingual elementary school teacher, many years ago. I loved working with my students. They came from places like Mexico, Guatemala, Russia, Laos, Cambodia and China, and they all had such amazing stories.

The author does a nice job of relating the stories of these high school students in NY, all of whom have come from foreign countries, in various ways, often dangerous and heart-wrenchingly
Jessica Ha
Apr 27, 2015 Jessica Ha rated it really liked it
As a reader, I was very intrigued by this novel because as an immigrant, I could relate with all the hardships and troubles they had to endure. I really admired the author’s writing style because she incorporated foreign languages into the dialogue to make the situation more real. This book was very eye-opening because I had thought I had a difficult time adjusting and fitting into the new environment when I moved from South Korea, however, I found out how much worse the transition can be. Not o ...more
Brian Eshleman
Aug 30, 2014 Brian Eshleman rated it really liked it
This is an amazing inside story of life and I high school composed of some of America's newest immigrants. They often gets inside the concerns and relationships of these terns without being condescending or rendering them as victims worthy of the reader's pity.

The author maintains the perfect voice throughout for covering the events of adolescent immigrants. She can be jocular and sarcastic. She can base her analogies on mundane events and objects, and yet, just as these events set up serious pa
Jessica Lam
Feb 28, 2014 Jessica Lam rated it really liked it
For anyone who isn't great at reading non-fiction, this is the one for you. Personally, parts of the narrative that were too internal or sensory that made me skeptical of the author, but I can't deny that the stories of these kids and the administrators and teachers who do their best are moving. It's one of those books that make you simultaneously realize how good you have it and also motivate you to do some good in the world in return. Their journeys are incredible and you'll get sucked in for ...more
Amanda Irving
Feb 20, 2016 Amanda Irving rated it it was amazing
This book was very well-written in that it was an eye-opener. The author has done an effective job in providing lots of sensory details for the reader to envision him/herself being in different boroughs of New York where the kids live. Also, she has done an effective job in exploring different stories to present multifaceted perspectives of the American Dream. After reading this book, I felt very inspired and proud of the students. Many of them have graduated and moved on to bigger and better th ...more
Feb 07, 2015 Terry rated it it was ok
Meh. The backstories of the students are definitely compelling, but as a whole, this book is not. I was hoping to see more specific detail about HOW the school teaches such a unique student body, and I was really hoping to understand more about the academic outcomes for these students. I found it odd that there are a few samples of student writing given (and a section where teachers are bemoaning the very poor writing) yet several of the students are accepted to schools like Drexel and Syracuse, ...more
The New Kids was chosen as one of the Alex Award books this year (adult books that have teen appeal), and so it came to my attention as I was putting together a bibliography. Imagine a high school with teachers and students from all over the world, who have come together to learn English and all about American culture. Many of these teens are undocumented (i.e. “illegally” living in the States), and some have come from truly horrible circumstances back in their own countries (wars, refugee camps ...more
Dec 22, 2014 Kristin rated it liked it
I found this on a reading list, thinking Lexie may enjoy it. There were a number of shocking stories (e.g. boy escapes his country by spending 24 hours folded up in a suitcase). Overall, I think I did develop a better appreciation for the challenges facing non-english speaking immigrant teens. But the book's structure and writing style was difficult for me. The author regularly mentioned specific people. This person said this. This person thought that. There were so many names that I couldn't re ...more
In the book, The New Kids by Brooke Hauser, immigrants from all over the world try to get into Prospect Heights, a high school for immigrant families who are trying to look for good schools so their children can have a better life. The author encounters students that spoke over 28 languages, other than English, and where from 45 nations. Hauser decides to focus on a few out of the many students at Prospect Heights: Chit Su, from Burma, Jessica from China, Ngawand, from Tibet, Mohamed from Sierra ...more
Jan 01, 2013 Heidi rated it really liked it
The things people go through can sometimes amaze and horrify me. In this book about kids at an International High School in New York (for immigrant teens who need to learn English and need some cultural guidance) the stories are almost brutal: crossing the Himalayas on foot in the middle of winter, spending years in a refugee camp, being held at gunpoint by police, entering the United States on a temporary travel visa but overstaying the visa because going back home is unimaginable, etc. We get ...more
Jenny Brown
Feb 09, 2012 Jenny Brown rated it really liked it
Very readable and appealing. It gives a some insight into the lives of immigrant teens in New York. It is written in a style so much like a novel that at times I had to wonder to what extent the author had nudged her story to fit a narrative form, and in the act of doing that, perhaps wandered a bit from the real truth.

It was like reading a story by Tracy Kidder as Told to Maeve Binchy. It had that kind of sunny "everything will turn out all right in the end for everyone" feel that Binchy's lat
Oct 20, 2013 Kathy rated it really liked it
The International School in Prospect Heights, NY is designed specifically for students who have recently immigrated to the US. They come from everywhere--Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ecuador, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Burma,China--some of them have been in the US for a few months, others literally escaped with their lives from refugee camps in war-ravaged countries and arrived in NYC a few days ago. Some are documented, some are not and live in fear that they will be deported. This book opened my ...more
Dec 15, 2012 Shana rated it really liked it
This book vividly demonstrates that immigrant teens face a number of challenges when they arrive in the US, but also that they are still affected by the same issues that American teens deal with every day. Some of the teens highlighted in this book have stories that would shock you: years in refugee camps, harassment by child soldiers, dangerous border crossings, and loss of family members. Many arrive with little formal education or knowledge of the English language, but have a strong desire to ...more
Jun 20, 2012 Erikka rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 6-1-12-to-6-1-13
As an educator, it is hard not to get flummoxed by the inequalities one sees or at the apathy most teachers cloak themselves in when the slow pace of change has worn them down. Then a book like this comes along and reminds me that there are SO MANY WAYS to overcome adversity, that there is so much left to be hopeful for, to appreciate what I DO have. If I do start feeling like the above, I either go out and remind myself again why I'm an educator or I get out of education. Students are the focus ...more
Apr 29, 2013 Khornberger rated it liked it
I liked that this book was filled with the true stories of many immigrant teens who each attend an international high school in NYC. Many of the stories were fascinating. The author was very descriptive in many aspects (overly descriptive - maybe???? - because I kept drifting off whenever she would start a new chapter and I could practically skip the beginnings of each to get to the stories that were so compelling of the students) I was a little bothered at how the teachers were portrayed. They ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Wanda rated it really liked it
This book made me appreciate the education I have been blessed with, and it made me appreciate that I am a citizen of the U.S. I was amazed at the immigrant students' stories and by what some of them went through to get here so they could have their crack at the American dream. It makes me even more excited about my goal of obtaining a TESOL certificate and working with students in culturally diverse situations. I also have more empathy for immigrants even if they are not in our country legally. ...more
May 24, 2013 Magda rated it it was amazing
No matter what I say, no words can encompass how much of an impact this book has made on me. It was so heartwarming, heartbreaking and inspiring to read the stories of these immigrant teens. Hauser does a great job of interweaving and outlining the stories of the students and the educators and other adults in their lives who helped mold them into the people they became. This was a journey I never wanted to end. At the end of the book, I was left feeling like I wanted more. I wanted to know how m ...more
A little Tracy Kidder, a little Frank McCourt. Brooke Hauser follows immigrant teens through a year at the International High School at Prospect Heights as they learn how to speak English and how to eat pizza in the cafeteria. (Hint: not with a spork.) Their tales are heart-wrenching (the Tibetan boy who crossed the border in a suitcase) and inspiring (the Chinese girl whose step-mother kicked her out of the family home the day she arrived in New York but who graduated with honors and a place at ...more
Sep 14, 2013 Deirdre rated it really liked it
Students from 45 countries attend he International High School at Prospect Heights in Brooklyn. Brooke Hauser follows students from 5 of these countries in her book. They are from Sierra Leone, Yemen, Tibet, China and Burma. It is a well-balanced book, describing students from diverse cultures adjusting their lives as they pursue the American Dream. The hardships these young people have endured to arrive in the US and the difficulties they encounter once they are here are heart rending. A human ...more
Oct 05, 2011 Pam rated it liked it
Shelves: bios-memoirs, edu, pam
The book New Kids provides the reader with a look at the struggles recent high school age immigrants face growing up in America. The book centers around a public high school in Brooklyn for immigrant teens. It is a story about poor to middle class teens who often lack necessary parental support and guidance. Brooke Hauser, the author, focuses on the high school providing glimpses of the teachers and students. The reader is left with wanting more, more about both the teachers and what struggles t ...more
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Brooke Hauser has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Allure, and Premiere, among other publications. Originally from Miami, Florida, she now divides her time between New York City and western Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband Addison MacDonald. Please visit her website:
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