Book Review: This Is What America Looks Like by Ilhan Omar

Book: This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey From Refugee To Congresswoman by Ilhan Omar

Published May 2020 by Dey Street Books|288 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/Memoir

Ilhan Omar was eight years old when war broke out in Somalia. The youngest of seven children, her mother had died while Ilhan was still a little girl. She was being raised by her father and grandfather when armed gunmen attacked their compound and the family decided to flee Mogadishu. They ended up in a refugee camp in Kenya, where Ilhan says she came to understand the deep meaning of hunger and death. Four years later, after a painstaking vetting process, her family achieved refugee status and arrived in Arlington, Virginia.

Aged twelve, penniless, speaking only Somali and having missed out on years of schooling, Ilhan rolled up her sleeves, determined to find her American dream. Faced with the many challenges of being a Muslim refugee, she questioned stereotypes and built bridges with her classmates and in her community. In under two decades she became a grassroots organizer, graduated from college and was elected to congress with a record-breaking turnout by the people of Minnesota—ready to keep pushing boundaries and restore moral clarity as she sees it in Washington D.C

I LOVED This is what America Looks Like!  This was a great read, and I’m really glad I picked it up.

I loved reading Omar’s story.  I didn’t know much about her, other than she’s a Congresswoman out of Minnesota.  But I learned a lot about her from hearing her story.  We get a glimpse of her life as a refugee, how she came to the U.S. and how she ended up running for Congress.  I really appreciate how important it is to represent her district, and we very much see that she’s dedicated to doing a great job and fighting for both her district and all Americans.  She wants to make this country a better place, and she had a lot of challenges and obstacles along the way.

We see how close she is to her father, and how important he was in her life.  It was clear that he wanted her to do well, and was supportive of her and her interests.  I also liked learning about her family, and the different relationships she had with them.

Honestly, I wanted this book to be longer!  I wanted to read more about her experiences, and this was a book that’s easy to read in one sitting.  I took my time with it because I wanted to enjoy her story, but I’m surprised I didn’t breeze right through it.  It’s very readable, and doesn’t get bogged down in detail.  It’s simple and straightforward, but it’s absolutely worth reading.

I am glad that we have people like Omar here- she cares about this country, and the people who live in it.  I’ve said something like this already, but she really does work for the people, and she has a strong sense of self and her place in the world.  She wants to make this country better, and though there are people who don’t want her here and disagree with her politics, she continues to stand up for what she believes in, and fights for justice for everyone, not just some people.

5 stars.  This book is a must-read, and I’m glad I did.  Omar is an amazing person, and her district is really lucky to have her representing them!

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