Crossed a Border Lately?

"Reading makes immigrants of us all," said Hazel Rochman. "It takes us away from home, but, most importantly, it finds homes for us everywhere."

Check your nightstand. How far are you traveling in your fiction? Here's my border-crossing challenge.
Share the title of a children's or YA novel you've read recently or plan to read featuring a protagonist who (a) wasn't born in your country of origin.

Then tell us about a good book with a main character (b) who is someone most of your ancestors a hundred or so years ago might have been shocked and ashamed to see you marry or befriend.
For me, (a) is easy since I was born in India, so basically most of the novels I read qualify, but (b) means a good book featuring a Muslim young man, so Khaled Hosseini's KITE RUNNER (which I think is an upper YA read) fits the bill. What about you?


Snow said…
A. I read a good amount of manga, so this pick may be cheating, but I just read Very Very Sweet vol. 1-2 by Ji-Sang Shin and Geo. It's a Korean comic (manhwa) about a spoiled young Japanese man who is forced by his grandfather to move to Korea to "get in touch with his roots." While it is full of silliness, the book does have a lot of cultural details which, not being of either Japanese or Korean ancestry, I found fascinating. I also liked that the creators wanted to do a comic about being a stranger in a strange land, even in a light, silly romance.

B. Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice by Philip Hoose--Even though my grandfather helped work with the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia (he was friends with Dr. King's father), my relatives further back did own slaves and would have been shocked that I would want to read about such an admirable young woman. But they would have also been shocked by my co-workers, friends, and our current president, so that's good too.
Pooja said…
A. I just read SECRET KEEPER ;). Though Asha and I share a cultural identity, she was born in India and I was born in the USA.

B. I also finished SKUNK GIRL, which features a Pakistani-American protagonist.
Sarah Rettger said…
a) My YA reading has been very US-centric lately, so the most recent book about a protagonist from a different country is Sarah MacLean's The Season, which really doesn't count. I'll go for Donna Jo Napoli's Alligator Bayou, where the protagonist is a Sicilian immigrant.

b) Some of my relatives (and I don't have to go back a hundred years for this, sadly) would be pretty put out if I were to marry Sam from Kekla Magoon's The Rock and the River.
Janni said…
For A I'm going to go with a manga too, Fumiyo Kouno's Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms, which is set in Hiroshima in the 1950s, 1980s, and 2000s.

I thought B was harder, until I realized a hundred years ago my relatives would have been horrified, and maybe disowned me entirely, for marrying someone not Jewish--which like you for A, leaves open most but not quite all of the novels set in our world that I've read. (Come to think of it, maybe they'd have been horrified if I married non-Jews from other fantasy worlds, too, even if we were the only Jews in that entire world ...)
kathleen duey said…
Mitali, have to write here because twitter won't let me direct message you if you aren't following me...and I just wanted to say this? Sometimes revisions are telling you something you need to know...but the timing can stink....! Try this: reread the "different direction" section and see if you think it is another, equally good or even better book trying to emerge too early....sometimes that happens to me. If so....promise the idea its own book...later...and revise this one first.
Doret said…
A- Gringolandia by Lyn Miller -Lachmann. I haven't read it yet but its high in the queue. The main character Daniel is from Chile.
B- Thats easy, any White Male lead. Since I just started reading Cabot's Being Nikki, I'll say Brandon Stark.
holly cupala said…
Well...I did read SECRET KEEPER lately. :)

And we are reading RED GLASS over at readergirlz. Beautiful book!

Then I went and married someone who might fit that ancestor-not-so-lovin' description (but then they'd meet him and fall head over heels, just like I did). Oh, about PERSEPOLIS. Wonderful read!
writerjenn said…
I'll do 3 for A:
SASS: The Great Call of China, by Cynthea Liu
Does My Head Look Big in This?, by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Climbing the Stairs, by Padma Venkatraman
Zoe said…
a) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golder
b)She's So Money by Cherry Cheva
Mordena said…
a) if grownups books don't count, then I have to go with Secret Keeper, too.

b) Luther from Bucking the Sarge. It's hard to say what my ancestors would have objected to (Serbs, probably), but I can't resist any opportunity to plug that book.
Mitali Perkins said…
I love you guys.
a) It's not a novel, but I loved Afghan Dreams: Young Voices of Afghanistan by Tony O'Brien and Michael P. Sullivan.

b) I don't have to go back anywhere near 100 years, as the main character's best friend comes out to him: Two Parties, One Tux, and a Very Short Film about The Grapes of Wrath by Steven Goldman.