Arab in America


Author: Toufic El Rassi

Title: Arab in America

Genre: Graphic Novel, auto-biography

Publication date: 2007

Number of Pages: 117

Geographical Setting: Urban America

Time period: From 1980’s to 2007

Plot Summary: Toufic El Rassi moved to the United States when he was only one and has been battling with his identity as an Arab-American since. During high school and college he distanced himself away from his Arab heritage and hung with the cool kids, drank, smoked weed and even got arrested, yet never really seemed to fit in with them because of his past. He felt that his only purpose was to serve as the “token” Arab kid. After September 11th things really changed and he began to deny his heritage and say he was of another race completely. Yet as time passed he began to feel that he had nothing to be ashamed of and started to embrace his Arab past and search out what made him deny this heritage for so many years.

Subject Headings: Arab Americans life; Racism; Tales of Citizenship; Bigotry; War protesting; Arab Americans –September 11th; Muslim Americans; Arab Americana– stereo types; autobiography.

Appeal: Unhurried pace, engaging , realistic characters, flashbacks, issue oriented, strong language, thought provoking, accurate, historic details, political, urban, details of growing up Arab in America, detail of racism, details of stereotypes, details of being out of place in society, details of battling identity, candid, edgy, humorous, chatty , frank , simple, thoughtful, witty.

Red Flags: Offensive language, drug use, alcohol abuse

Fiction read-a-likes:

American born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. Details of stereotypes, realistic characters, humorous.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Thought provoking, candid, realistic characters, details of growing up Native American in America.

La perdida “The lost only” by Jessica Abel. Engaging, details of battling with identity, lifelike characters, urban setting.

Non Fiction read-a-likes:

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi- This graphic novel is a portrait of the author’s daily life growing up in Iran before moving to America. Reading this book will give you a better understanding of some of the beliefs and customs of Middle Eastern people.

Pitch Black by Youme Landowne and Anthony Horton. This is the true story of Anthony Horotn, a homeless man who lives in the subway tunnels of New York City. In this graphic novel he tries to show that he doesn’t fit into society and creates beautiful pieces of art with thing most people regard as trash.

Our cancer year by Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner ; art by Frank Stack. This award winning book is the true account of a year of a cancer patient and his wife’s life. This novel uses art to show how the fear of cancer can make a person act and at times feel isolated in a community, but also shows how the love of the community and friends can ease these fears.

John B


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