Review: America Is In The Heart by Carlos Bulosan

Title: America is in the Heart
Author: Carlos Bulosan
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Paperback, 356 Pages
Published April 2014 (First Published 1946) 

Summary: First published in 1943, this classic memoir by well-known Filipino poet Carlos Bulosan describes his boyhood in the Philippines, his voyage to America, and his years of hardship and despair as an itinerant laborer following the harvest trail in the rural West. 

I had to read this book for my American History class a few weeks back, when we were covering the imperialism unit. I wasn't expecting to like it even a little bit, because American History bores the daylights out of me. But after reading this book, even though it certainly wasn't one of my favorite books in the world, I got to learn about the other side of American Imperialism -- the side we don't teach in our textbooks -- and what happens when people from American-controlled territories come to our home country.

To bluntly put it, we were awful people to these immigrants. The story follows Carlos Bulosan, a young man from the Philippines who comes to America to work and get money to support his poor family. He deals with a lot of abuse -- beatings, robberies, prostitutes, gangs, homeless men, and more. He's an honest, hard-working man who doesn't want any trouble. All he wants is to help his family, and the entire story is him constantly getting kicked in the face by karma. I really felt for him, and what made it worse is that it's a true story.

Knowing that our country treated immigrants in this horrible, awful way at this time really opened my eyes. We learn about the age of imperialism in America as a glorious time where we went around spreading democracy and defending the underdog. What we never learned about was how we were treated those very underdogs in our own country -- like filth and like dirt. It was appalling to see, especially because it completely threw away the pride I once had for my country's imperialism.     

If you're looking for a book that definitely opens your eyes to how our country used to manage things, I'd definitely recommend this book. There were some parts that were really dry and boring, but overall, I learned a lot. I was thinking that I was going to despise this book every second of the way because of the history factor, but the fact that it was a true story about how people coming into our country used to be treated, it opened my eyes and made me see a lot of things differently.

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