Listen free for 30 days

Here We Are

American Dreams, American Nightmares (A Memoir)
Narrated by: Aarti Namdev Shahani
Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

2019 Library Journal Best Books of the Year

"This is simply a beautiful, moving memoir read exceptionally well by Shahani." (AudioFile Magazine)

This program is read by the author.

Here We Are is a heart-wrenching memoir about an immigrant family's American Dream, the justice system that took it away, and the daughter who fought to get it back, from NPR correspondent Aarti Namdev Shahani.

The Shahanis came to Queens - from India, by way of Casablanca - in the 1980s. They were undocumented for a few unsteady years, and then, with the arrival of their green cards, they thought they'd made it. This is the story of how they did, and didn't; the unforeseen obstacles that propelled them into years of disillusionment and heartbreak; and the strength of a family determined to stay together.

Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares follows the lives of Aarti, the precocious scholarship kid at one of Manhattan's most elite prep schools, and her dad, the shopkeeper who mistakenly sells watches and calculators to the notorious Cali drug cartel. Together, the two represent the extremes that coexist in our country, even within a single family, and a truth about immigrants that gets lost in the headlines. It isn’t a matter of good or evil; it's complicated.

Ultimately, Here We Are is a coming-of-age story, a love letter from an outspoken modern daughter to her soft-spoken Old World father. She never expected they'd become best friends.

©2019 Aarti Namdev Shahani (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

"This is simply a beautiful, moving memoir read exceptionally well by Shahani, a reporter for NPR.... Shahani does a wonderful job telling her family's story - including seamlessly shifting between English and the multiple languages her family speaks. This is a gripping memoir of struggle, hardship, family strife, and, in the end, achieving the American dream." (AudioFile Magazine)

"Aarti Shahani’s book is destined to take its place among the finest memoirs written in recent decades - a heartbreaking, hilarious and tender love letter to the millions of people who have made their way across lands and oceans to try and find a new life in America. This book will take you on a vivid, almost cinematic journey that is both beautiful and unforgettable." (Guy Raz, co-creator of How I Built This, Wow in the World, and TED Radio Hour)  

"This timely, bittersweet immigration story will resonate powerfully with readers." (Publishers Weekly)  

What members say

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Yolonda Simon
  • Yolonda Simon
  • 04-10-19

Here We Are Review

The book was fantastic! I heard Aarthi Shahani interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition. Steve Inskeep was the interviewer, I think, and it was so interesting that I ordered the book that day.
In this day of out of control immigration laws, the book was even more pertinent. I am appreciative of the author sharing so much about her family, culture, and her personal growth. Also how unfair the legal system can be.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jaye Howell
  • Jaye Howell
  • 07-11-19

Great book by someone i hear on NPR a lot.

i was surprised to find out how much of her story was like a friend of mine.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for gwandelia
  • gwandelia
  • 31-10-19

Educated

Being a white, privileged, native born, fourth generation American I never had an opportunity to meet and mingle with any immigrant children in my youth. But they did not go unnoticed from my child eyes. I wondered about their clothes, their homes, their foods, their families. As a college student in NYC I began to have random opportunities to share space with others not like me. Then in my many years of employment I finally learned and enjoyed much from all the immigrants with whom I worked. But only thru the words of experience with this author did I feel I truly got educated in the day to day harsh, loving, painful, unjust realities the immigrant faces.
The author narrates well and presents so many complicated injustices they encountered. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning the legal dilemmas faced by so many of the Americans who built and continue to build our country.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for J. Glassman
  • J. Glassman
  • 19-10-19

A heart-wrenching but hopeful American masterpiece

Ms. Shahani has written a masterpiece. Here We Are is vivid and colorful - an incredibly personal and courageous work. Never has an immigrant’s journey been illustrated in such detail and in such a powerfully evocative way. The impact of American immigration policy and the criminal justice system are brought to life. While much of Ms. Shahani’s story is heart wrenching, the work intersperses many humorous stories, and does deliver a hopeful message.

As the narrator of her own story, Ms. Shahani is also able to bring life to the story in a way that many narrators are unable. Bravo!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for B. Heard
  • B. Heard
  • 16-10-19

Truth Rings True

The best told story ever. What a wonderful homage to a father. Well said. Well done.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-10-19

captivating

incredibly interesting and sad and hopeful at the same time. Every American needs to read this

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for KidDozzi
  • KidDozzi
  • 08-10-19

Touching Debut Memoir

This is really a wonderful debut work and I wanted to recommend it.

Aarti Shahani had really created a touching memoir filled with Queens, class, immigration, savviness, determination, and deep ruminations on love, respect, distance, family, and work. Especially in the the post-Obama era, it looks back unflinchingly at historical precedents on immigration injustices, while facing class, race, gender, and modern identity issues with an optimism and determination which makes the entire reading enjoyable.

I'm glad someone so 'young' is sharing this story now, but realize there is going to be another one in her future. She clearly has a Very bright future ahead of her still.

Buy it, read it, share it, listen to it.
It's worth it.