About this item

From an award-winning, "meticulously observant" (The New Yorker) writer comes a powerful and moving account of how refugee teenagers at a Denver public high school learn English and become Americans.

The Newcomers follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado, in an English Language Acquisition class created specifically for them. Speaking no English, unfamiliar with American culture, their stories are poignant and remarkable as they face the enormous challenge of adapting. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, after experiencing dire forms of cataclysm. Some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their original family.

At the center of The Newcomers is Mr. Williams, the dedicated and endlessly resourceful teacher of South's very beginner English Language Acquisition class. If Mr. Williams does his job right, the newcomers will leave his class at the end of the school year with basic English skills and new confidence, their foundation for becoming Americans and finding a place in their new home.

With the US at a political crossroads around questions of immigration, multiculturalism, and America's role on the global stage, Helen Thorpe presents a fresh and nuanced perspective. The Newcomers is a transformative take on these timely, important issues.



About the Author

Helen Thorpe

Helen Thorpe is the author of Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War. Doris Kearns Goodwin said of this book: "With a novelist's perception of character, drama and telling detail, Helen Thorpe magically weaves together the stories of three very different but equally compelling women soldiers. Taken together, their stories provide an intimate window on life in the military, the impact of war and the difficult transition to home. This is an absolutely terrific and important work." And O Magazine wrote: "Parenthood and roadside bombs, young love and PTSD - finally, a nuanced look at the lives of female soldiers that is as intimate as it is groundbreaking."

Previously, Helen Thorpe has written magazine stories for the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, Texas Monthly, Westword, and 5280. She lives in Denver, Colorado. Her first book, Just Like Us, was published by Scribner in 2009. It was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts adapted the book for the stage in 2013. Soldier Girls was published by Scribner in August 2014.

Author Photograph by Marea Evans.



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