Seton Hall University

SHU Reads!

Book cover of American Like Me by America Ferrera2023 SHU Reads! Selection: American Like Me: Reflections on LifeBetween Cultures by America Ferrera

From award-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera comes a vibrant and varied collection of first-person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures.

In American Like Me, America invites thirty-one of her friends, peers, and heroes to share their stories about life between cultures. We know them as actors, comedians, athletes, politicians, artists, and writers. However, they are also immigrants, children or grandchildren of immigrants, indigenous people, or people who otherwise grew up with deep and personal connections to more than one culture. Each of them struggled to establish a sense of self, find belonging, and feel seen. And they call themselves American enthusiastically, reluctantly, or not at all.

2023 SHU Reads! Essay Contest/Book Review Prompt: American Like Me: Reflections on LifeBetween Cultures edited by America Ferrera

This assignment calls for a 3- to 5-page book review on America Ferrara’s American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures. A successful essay will utilize features of book reviews that are discussed in the primary Core English I text, Everyone’s An Author, and in class, including:

  • A clear sense of audience
  • A concise summary of the plot
  • An evaluation of the text and the author’s argument and rhetorical choices
  • A recommendation for your audience (see below regarding audience)

More specifically, be sure to consider the following, especially in your pre-writing:

  • What did you like/dislike/find intriguing about the book’s portrayal of one of the following themes: immigrant experiences; the experiences of indigenous citizens of the US; LGBTQ+ experiences; experiences of people based on their gendered or non-binary status; the influence of culture on identities; experiences with religion; experiences of feeling a sense of self, belonging, and being seen; and what it means to be “American.”
  • Do your thoughts on these themes affect your recommendation? Choose one of the issues above or another that your professor approves; that issue or theme will be the focus of your review.
  • How did American Like Me either change or reinforce your ideas about (the issue)?

Depending on your chosen topic(s), choose a magazine, journal, blog, website, social media platform/thread, or other medium as a potential publication venue and audience for your review. Your professor may need to approve the publication. Make sure you identify the audience and the purpose of this publication in some way early on in your essay.

In short, you will write a 3-5 page analytical book review for your publication of choice addressing the way two or three of the essays in the collection address an issue and why readers should, or shouldn't, read this book based on its potential contributions to society, its handling – or mishandling – of said topics, and its overall readability as well as your personal insights and analysis on the book. It should end with a recommendation to the particular audience based on the subject matter chosen.

In writing the paper, you will need to refer to the book; therefore, you will need to include in-text references and a Works Cited page. 

If you have any questions, please be sure to check with your instructor or Dr. Kelly Shea, Assoc. Prof. of English/Director of First-Year Writing and SHUReads! committee member, [email protected].

If the essay is being submitted for the SHUReads! Essay Contest, the submission deadline is November 1, 2023.  Instructions for submission will be supplied by your instructor or will be found here.

SHU Reads! Common Reading Experience 

Students at Seton Hall University begin their common learning experience in the summer before their first year. Since 2003, all incoming first-year students have read a common book over the summer to introduce them to academic and student life at Seton Hall. The SHU Reads! nominated text presents a shared experience intended to foster thoughtful discussion and engagement in University Life, the first-year English classes, and throughout the academic year. Details for 2023 contest coming in the Fall.

Previous Selections:

  • 2021 & 2022: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
  • 2020: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  • 2019: Educated by Tara Westover
  • 2018: Coming of Age at the End Of Nature: A Generation Faces Living on a Changed Planet by Julie Dunlap and Susan Cohen
  • 2017: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  • 2016: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
  • 2015: The Ledge by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan
  • 2014: Radium Girls by D.W. Gregory
  • 2013: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • 2012: This I Believe
  • 2011: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Jennifer Skloot