American Street

American Street

by

Ibi Zoboi

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Detective Shawna Stevens Character Analysis

Detective Stevens works for the Grosse Pointe Park Police Department; she’s investigating the death of a local student who died after taking designer drugs. She wears a fuzzy brown coat and sensible brown shoes, which make Fabiola decide that she’s trustworthy—Manman believes one should judge others based on the state of their shoes. However, Detective Stevens knows all about Fabiola’s family history and uses this knowledge to manipulate Fabiola into helping her investigation. She seems particularly skilled at influencing immigrants like Fabiola, who are eager to prove that they’re “real” Americans. Detective Stevens makes a point to note that Fabiola is an American citizen and therefore has a duty to help detectives when needed. Detective Stevens proposes a trade: in exchange for Fabiola’s information on Dray that will lead to his arrest for selling the bad drugs, Detective Stevens will expedite Manman’s processing and help her get a green card. However, the plan ends up going sideways: Fabiola discovers that it’s her cousins, not Dray, who sold the drugs, and her information inadvertently causes the police to murder Kasim. After this happens, Fabiola realizes that Detective Stevens wasn’t helpful or even all that powerful. Instead, she’s a figure whom Bad Leg warned her about in a song, when he sang to “beware the lady dressed all in brown.” Fabiola blames Detective Stevens for Kasim’s death, but Detective Stevens does make good on her promise: mere hours after the novel ends, Manman is going to arrive in the U.S. with her immigration charges dropped.

Detective Shawna Stevens Quotes in American Street

The American Street quotes below are all either spoken by Detective Shawna Stevens or refer to Detective Shawna Stevens. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Balzer + Bray edition of American Street published in 2017.
Chapter 9 Quotes

I look all around the restaurant. “But this is your job,” I say.

She inhales and looks around, too. “Yes, it is. But our work is not without the help of good American citizens like yourself. You are an American citizen, right?”

Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

“On American Street, I will live with my aunt Jo and my cousins, and go to school, and have a cute boyfriend, and keep my mouth shut because in Haiti I learned not to shake hands with the devil. But on Joy Road, I will tell the truth. The truth will lead to my happiness, and I will drive long and far without anything in my way, like the path to New Jersey, to my mother, to her freedom, to my joy. Which road should I take, Papa Legba?”

Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
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American Street PDF

Detective Shawna Stevens Character Timeline in American Street

The timeline below shows where the character Detective Shawna Stevens appears in American Street. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
The woman introduces herself as Detective Shawna Stevens of the Grosse Pointe Park Police Department. Fabiola prepares to leave, but Detective Stevens says... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Detective Stevens point out that Manman isn’t a citizen, and that the last time she was in... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...Fabiola is happy, she thinks about how Manman is still in New Jersey, and how Detective Stevens asked for something impossible. Kasim’s cellphone rings: it’s Dray. Fabiola wonders if it’s true about... (full context)
Chapter 12
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...feels as though she pops when she pulls out her wallet to pay and finds Detective Stevens ’s card. Tapping the card on the table, Fabiola is certain that Detective Stevens knows... (full context)
Chapter 13
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...When Fabiola gets back in the house, she locks herself in the bathroom and texts Detective Stevens . (full context)
Chapter 14
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...whether Manman would approve of Kasim or her outfit. Just then, her phone buzzes: it’s Detective Stevens , promising to call tomorrow at 3:00. Fabiola tries to forget about the detective. As... (full context)
Chapter 15
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...through it and all the way home. On the steps of the house, she calls Detective Stevens . In a rush, Fabiola says that her uncle Phillip “went down” for Dray’s Uncle... (full context)
Chapter 16
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The next day, Fabiola breaks school rules and keeps her phone in her bag. Detective Stevens texts her that Manman will call at noon, so Fabiola hides in a bathroom stall... (full context)
Chapter 17
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...Papa Legba, and put on a costume that will help her hand Dray over to Detective Stevens . Outside the car, Donna greets a tall woman with a booming voice named Miss... (full context)
Chapter 18
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...a sigh, Donna says that he isn’t. Fabiola then goes into a stall and texts Detective Stevens about what she found. (full context)
Chapter 19
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...weight,” or if she’s just around for occasional sex. Fabiola concludes that her information for Detective Stevens was no good if Dray was arrested and released. (full context)
Chapter 20
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...of her weight loss as the drought before the rain—the rain being Dray’s arrest by Detective Stevens . Imani, however, is concerned by Fabiola’s weight loss. She refuses to come over and... (full context)
Chapter 21
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...because their drugs killed someone. The words echo in Fabiola’s head, and she realizes that Detective Stevens is wrong: Fabiola’s cousins, not Dray, sold the drugs that killed the white girl. He... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola wonders if he should tell Detective Stevens the truth, but she knows she can’t. That will put her cousins in jail and... (full context)
Chapter 22
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...this is family—but then she remembers that Manman isn’t here. This makes her think of Detective Stevens and her cousins’ drugs. At the restaurant, Chantal looks around nervously—Fabiola realizes that she’s afraid... (full context)
Chapter 26
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...didn’t know her cousins sold drugs. She knows she can’t give her cousins up to Detective Stevens . As Fabiola looks around, she gets an idea. (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...to his car, and Fabiola feels like she’s in the underworld. At home, she calls Detective Stevens . Fabiola tells her that Dray will be at a party this weekend and will... (full context)
Chapter 27
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...and notes that the cops will be at the party anyway. Fabiola fixates on this. Detective Stevens will find the evidence she needs to arrest Dray. (full context)
Chapter 29
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...now. Suddenly, Fabiola has an idea and asks for Chantal’s phone so she can call Detective Stevens . Detective Stevens won’t arrest Kasim, since she wants Dray. (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
...Manman. Fabiola feels awful; she betrayed Donna too. Chantal snaps that Fabiola can’t talk to Detective Stevens . She can’t talk to cops or lawyers—it’s the code out here. Fabiola shrinks into... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...tugs Fabiola toward the party. She breaks away and races toward the sirens. Fabiola sees Detective Stevens staring at her disbelievingly. Behind the detective, police officers are unraveling yellow ribbon that reads... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...means “divided amongst many,” and feels like she’s been split in half. She wails as Detective Stevens picks her up and tells her to go. Chantal appears and can barely get herself... (full context)
Chapter 32
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...she can’t figure out where Kasim fits in. One day, a car pulls up: it’s Detective Stevens . Fabiola only gets in when Detective Stevens says that she has information on Manman.... (full context)