American Street

American Street

by

Ibi Zoboi

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Fabiola Toussaint Character Analysis

Fabiola is 16-year-old the protagonist of the novel. Because Fabiola was born in Detroit, she’s an American citizen—but when she was three months old, her mother, Manman, chose to return to Haiti with Fabiola. Growing up in Haiti, Fabiola joins Manman in practicing Vodou. She grows up poor, but thanks to her aunt Matant Jo, she attends an English school in preparation for her eventual move to the U.S. Fabiola experiences the real-life earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, and this is a formative, traumatic experience for her; whenever she experiences traumatizing things in Detroit, she references the earthquake. When the novel begins, Fabiola has just entered the U.S. and had to leave Manman in New York, where Manman was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Fabiola is able to get a handle on her grief by leaning on her Vodou practice and by getting to know her aunt and her cousins Chantal, Pri, and Donna. At first, Fabiola is shocked and disheartened by her standoffish family in Detroit, and by the violence and lack of opportunity in the city itself—none of this fits her conception of what life in the U.S. was supposed to be like. But Fabiola becomes a little happier with her new life when she begins dating a young man, Kasim, who works a regular job and rejects the violence and drug culture in Detroit. And, when Fabiola eventually discovers that the lwa (Vodou spirit) Papa Legba keeps watch outside Matant Jo’s house and begins seeing lwas elsewhere in her life, she becomes more confident in her ability to interpret the lwas’ messages and bring Manman to her. She even tries to share her Vodou spirituality with her cousins with some success. However, Fabiola hides the fact that she’s working with a police officer named Detective Stevens, who asks Fabiola to help her arrest Donna’s abusive boyfriend, Dray, for drug-dealing in exchange for Manman’s release. All of this ultimately leads to disaster when, instead of getting Dray arrested, Fabiola’s plan leads to the police murdering Kasim. Kasim’s death results in Fabiola’s loss of innocence and the realization that she can’t control everything through Vodou alone. Fabiola learns that she also needs a firm understanding of how the real world works—and she needs to be loyal to every member of her family, not just Manman.

Fabiola Toussaint Quotes in American Street

The American Street quotes below are all either spoken by Fabiola Toussaint or refer to Fabiola Toussaint. 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 1 Quotes

And then tomorrow, she will come to this side of the glass, where this good work that will make her hold her head up with dignity, where she will be proud to send me to school for free, and where we will build a good, brand-new life. Une belle vie, as she always promises, hoping that here she would be free to take her sister’s hand and touch the moon.

Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

The living room of this house, my new home, is a sea of beige leather. The furniture crowds the small space as if every inch of it is meant for sitting. I’ve seen bigger salons in the mansions atop the hills of Petionville, even fancier furniture and wider flat-screen TVs. But none of that belonged to me and my mother; none of the owners were family. Here, I can sit on the leather couches for as long as I want and watch all the movies in the world as if I’m in the cinema.

Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
Princess’s Story Quotes

Ma named us Primadonna and Princess ‘cause she thought being born in America to a father with a good-paying job at a car factory and a house and a bright future meant that we would be royalty. But when our father got killed, that’s when shit fell apart.

Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:
Matant Jo’s Story Quotes

This is your home now, Fabiola. This is Phillip’s house—the house he bought with the last bit of money he had from Haiti. He had dreams, you know. That’s why when he saw this house for sale, on the corner of American Street and Joy Road, he insisted on buying it with the cash from his ransacked and burned-to-the-ground car dealership in Port-au-Prince. He thought he was buying American Joy.

Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

She stares at the magic things for a while without touching them before she asks, “Does it work?”

“Well,” I say. “Has anyone ever tried to kill you?” I have to speak loudly over the music.

Pri turns around and closes the bedroom door, muting the music a bit.

“Kill me? Ain’t nobody rolling up in this house to kill anyone.”

“I know. We made it so. Me and my mother. Every day we asked the lwas to protect our family in Detroit and their house,” I say, adjusting my bra.

Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Cher Manman,

I see you clearer now because I light my candle and pour the libation, rattle the asson, and ring the bell to call all my guides, the lwas. You’ve told me that they are here for me. All I have to do is call on them so they can help me. I believe you, Manman. Even without you being here to hold ceremonies with drummers and singers and a village of followers, I will practice all that you’ve taught me.

Related Characters: Fabiola Toussaint (speaker), Manman/Valerie Toussaint
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

“Leg. Bad,” I say loud and clear, because I now see him for who he is—the old man at the crossroads with his hat and cane and riddles come to open doors for me. He is the lwa who guards the gates to everything good—to everything bad, too. “Bad. Leg. Legba. Papa Legba.”

Related Characters: Fabiola Toussaint (speaker), Bad Leg/Papa Legba
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
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 10 Quotes

“But I ain’t no kingpin, know what I’m saying? So it’s just favors here and there. Shit you do for fam.”

A cold chill travels up my spine. Shit you do for fam. The way he says it, it’s like he would do anything for his family, like for love and respect. I say it out loud. “Shit you do for fam.” I turn to him.

“Shit you do for fam,” he repeats.

Related Characters: Kasim (speaker), Fabiola Toussaint (speaker), Dray, Manman/Valerie Toussaint
Page Number: 104
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:
Chantal’s Story Quotes

Creole and Haiti stick to my insides like glue—it’s like my bones and muscles. But America is my skin, my eyes, and my breath. According to my papers, I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m not a citizen. I’m a “resident alien.” The borders don’t care if we’re all human and my heart pumps blood the same as everyone else’s.

Related Characters: Chantal François (speaker), Fabiola Toussaint, Matant Jo François
Page Number: 116-17
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

Then I begin to see him for who he really is. Dray, with his sunglasses even as night spreads across the sky, and his gold cross gleaming, and his love/hate for my cousin, reminds me of the lwa Baron Samedi, guardian of the cemetery—keeper of death.

Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

But I don’t want to look like a church lady. I still want to look...good. So I take off my mother’s church dress and put on a plain sweatshirt that belongs to Chantal and a pair of new jeans. I wear the Air Jordans that Pri picked out for me, but I keep my hairstyle. Now I don’t look so...Haitian. So immigrant.

Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

“You did well in Haiti with my money. You think I was going to let my sister rot in the countryside with a new baby in her hands?”

“We prayed for you. When I was a young girl and I couldn’t even understand anything, I knew that it was my job to pray for my aunt and cousins because it was the only reason my papers said that I am American. We were grateful for that, not just for the money.”

Related Characters: Matant Jo François (speaker), Fabiola Toussaint (speaker), Manman/Valerie Toussaint
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

“Matant Jo,” I say. “Bad Leg at the corner, he’s not just a crazy man. He is Papa Legba and he is opening doors and big, big gates. I will show you. I promise.”

She turns to me. “Child, this is Detroit. Ain’t no Papa Legba hanging out on corners. Only dealers and junkies. You don’t know shit. But don’t worry. You’ll figure it out.”

Related Characters: Fabiola Toussaint (speaker), Matant Jo François (speaker), Bad Leg/Papa Legba
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

This is a makeshift altar for Ezili with all the things she loves in the world. My whole body tingles when I realize what’s happening.

Again, Papa Legba has opened another door. How could I have missed this? Of course, I need Ezili’s help, too. And she’d been right under my nose, working through Donna with all her talk about hair, jewelry, clothes, and beauty.

Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

“Catholic school for all three of us out here was just pennies. But your ass over there in Haiti cost her like twenty Gs every year. Your school, money for your mom, your clothes. Hell, all this time, Ma thought y’all were building a mansion near the beach and she swore she’d go back down there to retire.

“But she’s getting sick. We don’t want her to do this loan-sharking shit anymore. Money was running out. We still gotta live, Fab. We still gotta breathe. Money’s just room to breathe, that’s all.”

Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:

I used to stare at that address whenever those white envelopes with the blue-and-red-striped edges would make their way to our little house in Port-au-Prince. I’d copy the address over and over again, 8800 American Street, because this house was my very first home. But for three short months only. This house is where I became American. This house is the one my mother and I prayed for every night, every morning, and during every ceremony: 8800 American Street.

Related Characters: Fabiola Toussaint (speaker), Manman/Valerie Toussaint
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:
The Story of 8800 American Street Quotes

So in 2000, Jean-Phillip François, the Haitian immigrant and the first occupant to actually land a job at a car factory—the Chrysler plant—paid the city three thousand dollars in cash for that little house on American Street.

And maybe because the little house had been revived with the sounds of babies and the scent of warm meals and love and hopes and dreams, Death woke from its long sleep to claim the life of Haitian immigrant and father of three Jean-Phillip François with a single bullet to the head outside the Chrysler plant.

Death parked itself on the corner of American and Joy, some days as still as stone, other days singing cautionary songs and delivering telltale riddles, waiting for the day when one girl would ask to open the gates to the other side.

Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

How is this the good life, when even the air in this place threatens to wrap its fingers around my throat? In Haiti, with all its problems, there was always a friend or a neighbor to share in the misery. And then, after our troubles were tallied up like those points at the basketball game, we would celebrate being alive.

But here, there isn’t even a slice of happiness big enough to fill up all these empty houses, and broken buildings, and wide roads that lead to nowhere and everywhere.

Page Number: 247
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 29 Quotes

I want to say sorry to Chantal. I want to ask her why, with all that money, they never bought a house here. I want to ask her why, with all her brains, is she selling drugs.

Related Characters: Fabiola Toussaint (speaker), Chantal François, Kasim
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 32 Quotes

We are all in white. Even Pri has shed her dark clothes and now wears a white turtleneck and pants. I had wrapped my cousins and aunt in white sheets after making a healing bath of herbs and Florida water for each one, and let them curl into themselves and cry and cry. This is what Manman had done for our neighbors who survived the big earthquake. The bath is like a baptism, and if black is the color of mourning, then white is the color of rebirth and new beginnings.

Page Number: 321
Explanation and Analysis:
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Fabiola Toussaint Character Timeline in American Street

The timeline below shows where the character Fabiola Toussaint appears in American Street. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola wishes she could break the glass that separates her from Manman. The people who “belong... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
In Detroit, Fabiola doesn’t have to prove she belongs. She looks around for Manman, but Manman doesn’t appear.... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola can’t figure out how to tell the woman that she won’t leave the terminal without... (full context)
Chapter 2
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...cold and biting. Even though Manman says that the cold is good for their skin, Fabiola still feels like she’ll freeze. Fabiola struggles to pick out her cousins in the sea... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Fabiola reaches out to hug Chantal, her favorite cousin. Chantal asks where Manman is, but Fabiola... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Pri, and Donna step aside to speak in fast English. After a minute, Chantal takes Fabiola’s hand and says it’s time to go home. Fabiola doesn’t move. She remembers all those... (full context)
Chapter 3
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Detroit seems impossibly dark; Fabiola can’t see much of the city where she was born. She wonders if mansions like... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Manman was supposed to be here to take care of Matant Jo. Matant Jo takes Fabiola in her arms and then asks where Manman is. Fabiola replies that they’re detaining Manman,... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Fabiola assures her aunt that she did, but then she uses another Creole word. Matant Jo... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Matant Jo leads Fabiola into the kitchen while Pri, Donna, and Chantal turn on the TV in the living... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Fabiola listens to her cousins in the living room and has no idea what to do.... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Chantal asks if Fabiola used an indoor or outdoor bathroom in Haiti. Embarrassed, Fabiola says that it depended on... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
By 1:30 am, Fabiola is ravenous. She hasn’t slept well all week, since she attended so many going-away parties.... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Bad Leg up. At the same time, Donna gets out of the car, obviously drunk. Fabiola tries to make herself invisible as Donna stumbles into the house and up the stairs.... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
In a letter to Manman, Fabiola writes that this is her first night away from Manman. She writes that when she... (full context)
Chapter 4
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The next morning, Chantal asks why Fabiola spun around with the mug last night. Fabiola explains that she was saluting the four... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...will be fine. Through gritted teeth, Chantal says that they have to save money for Fabiola to buy clothes and school stuff, which leads to in an argument. Fabiola, meanwhile, is... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Pri comes downstairs dressed in baggy khakis and an oversized white button up. She asks Fabiola to braid her hair as Donna walks by in full makeup. When Fabiola asks if... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola wants to twist Pri’s lips for using such foul language, but she takes her time... (full context)
Chapter 5
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
As Chantal drives Fabiola up to her new school, she points out that it looks like a haunted castle.... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Fabiola turns to Chantal, who explains that Matant Jo works hard to take care of everyone—she’s... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Fabiola walks away, but Imani follows and explains that people expect Fabiola to be the Fourth... (full context)
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
After school, back at home, Fabiola feels lonely. As she eats a meal out of paper bags, she feels like the... (full context)
Matant Jo’s Story
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
Matant Jo tells Fabiola that this is her home now. Phillip bought this house with the last of his... (full context)
Chapter 6
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Matant Jo keeps cash in her Bible. She gives Fabiola $400 for her “expenses.” This is the most money Fabiola has ever had, so she... (full context)
Chapter 7
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
On Fabiola’s first Saturday night in Detroit, loud music blasts all through the house. Matant Jo wears... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Donna bursts in with a basket of hair supplies. She gets to work on doing Fabiola’s hair and makeup—when she’s done, Fabiola has fake hair, fake eyelashes, and perfect eyebrows. Pri... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
As Pri drags Fabiola inside, Fabiola locks eyes with a vagabon—it’s the boy who helped Bad Leg, and he’s... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Donna introduces Fabiola to the other boy, who intentionally mishears Fabiola’s name and calls her Fabulous. He introduces... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...and Dragons—Donna is the dragon, and Dray is taming her. Kasim says that he and Fabiola won’t have a relationship like that. Fabiola laughs and explains why she called him Broke.... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
As the club empties, Fabiola realizes that she’s alone. Kasim brings her coat to her and leads her outside. There,... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
At home, Fabiola writes a letter Manman, telling her that she feels more connected to Manman now that... (full context)
Chapter 8
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Once Donna is tucked into bed, Fabiola and Pri play cards while Chantal reads. Fabiola asks if Dray hits Donna—after all, Bad... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola greets Bad Leg and asks what happened to his leg. He responds by welcoming Fabiola... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Fabiola races back inside to light a candle and pray for Manman. But instead of ringing... (full context)
Chapter 9
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
The next Friday, Fabiola packs a small bag for Manman. She tells Chantal it’s been too long and asks... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
When Pri walks over to some other girls, Fabiola knows she’s not the Fourth Bee. She decides to head back to the CVS. In... (full context)
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 she needs help—and in return, she can help... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...that the last time she was in the U.S., she overstayed her visa. But if Fabiola helps with this investigation, they can get Manman a green card. Fabiola is still suspicious,... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...explaining that not everyone can be a “baller” like Dray and Matant Jo. He calls Fabiola Fabulous and then calls Pri on his cell phone. He hands the phone to Fabiola,... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Even though Fabiola is happy, she thinks about how Manman is still in New Jersey, and how Detective... (full context)
Chapter 10
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
At the restaurant, Fabiola doesn’t like any of the food. Kasim asks her if people retire to Haiti when... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim pays for the meal in cash and ignores Fabiola as they get back in his car. There, Fabiola puts a hand on his and... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Donna do their own thing. He also explains that Dray is like family to him. Fabiola asks if that means that Kasim is going to hit his girlfriend too. Kasim lists... (full context)
Chapter 11
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Pri warns Fabiola to not have sex with Kasim too fast, while Donna yells from the bathroom that... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Donna comes in and asks if Fabiola is a virgin. Fabiola is. The twins then give Chantal a hard time about wanting... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola stays up late, listening to Bad Leg sing and replaying the day’s events in her... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Fabiola thinks that she has to choose a path. One street represents the future, and Papa... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
When Fabiola crawls back into bed, she lies that she was downstairs eating. Chantal says that Fabiola... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Chantal asks about what Fabiola used to post on Facebook, but Fabiola says that she and her friends didn’t do... (full context)
Chantal’s Story
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Chantal to go to a fancy university, but Chantal couldn’t leave. This is home, and Fabiola reminds her of Haiti. (full context)
Chapter 12
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Fabiola’s English teacher, Mr. Nolan, hands back her paper and explains that she got a low... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Fabiola is thankful for Imani; she believes Papa Legba has opened the door to friendship for... (full context)
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim greets the girls as they take a table. Imani starts to talk about Fabiola’s essay, but Kasim is too distracting for Fabiola to pay attention. Finally, Imani kicks her.... (full context)
Chapter 13
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Hours later, Fabiola and Imani are the only customers in the café when Kasim and his coworkers begin... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim comes out of the café, kisses Fabiola, and says that Dray is going to drive them home. Imani shakes her head, but... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
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Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola tries to defend Imani to Donna, which makes Dray tell Kasim to control his girlfriend.... (full context)
Chapter 14
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Donna attempts to put a wig on Fabiola in preparation for her date with Kasim. Fabiola pulls away and wonders whether Manman would... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Dressed like this, Fabiola feels less Haitian and less like an immigrant. Chantal asks where they’re going. Fabiola doesn’t... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
When the doorbell rings, Fabiola sees Dray’s car outside—Dray let Kasim borrow it. Fabiola doesn’t want to get in and... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...they get in line at the Detroit Opera House—they’re going to see Alvin Ailey dance. Fabiola is speechless. She’s never seen dancers like the people on the posters, and she’s never... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Afterwards, Fabiola asks how much the tickets cost. She tells Kasim that he should be spending money... (full context)
Chapter 15
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Fabiola struggles with a mix of feelings. Kasim makes her feel like honey, while thinking of... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola asks Papa Legba for “the word,” and he sings a rhyme for her. On the... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
At the end of the street, Fabiola sees Papa Legba. When Fabiola crosses the street to join him, he’s gone. She walks... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Dray tells Fabiola to come inside with him. He hands the dogs to the fat man, and Fabiola... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
The door doesn’t latch behind Dray, so Fabiola runs through it and all the way home. On the steps of the house, she... (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... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
That afternoon, Fabiola knocks on Matant Jo’s door and lets herself in. Matant Jo throws a slipper at... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Fabiola asks Matant Jo what hurts, and Matant Jo says that everything hurts and asks if... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Matant Jo gets up and begins to change in front of Fabiola. Fabiola studies her aunt’s body: it looks swollen, and Fabiola has to help her aunt... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fabiola and Matant Jo begin to argue: Fabiola insists that she’s been praying for Matant Jo... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
After class, Mr. Nolan gives Fabiola her revised paper. Since Fabiola added evidence, Mr. Nolan bumped her grade up to an... (full context)
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Outside, Imani notices Fabiola’s A and says that Mr. Nolan went easy on her. Imani insists that Fabiola has... (full context)
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Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...have sex with Dray, thinking that he’d buy them things—but Dray regularly burns those girls. Fabiola asks why Donna couldn’t just tell Imani this instead of bullying her. At this, Chantal... (full context)
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...in front of a house, where a group of girls are standing outside. Donna tells Fabiola to get out; they’re getting their hair and nails done for Dray’s birthday party tonight.... (full context)
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At this, Fabiola leaps out of the car. She knows that this is her chance to be a... (full context)
Chapter 18
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When Ms. Unique drops Fabiola and Donna off at the house, Donna shouts that she won. Matant Jo is with... (full context)
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...Dray’s demeanor changes. He hands Donna his keys and phone and excuses himself. Donna drags Fabiola to the bathroom and says that if Kasim ever gives Fabiola his phone, she’ll know... (full context)
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...when the girls come out. He leads them to Dray’s private booth and whispers to Fabiola that they can leave after a toast. Dray pours champagne, and then he stares hard... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Under the door, Fabiola sees Pri’s socks and Matant Jo’s slippers converge around Donna to protect her, and Matant... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Fabiola thinks of all the food she misses. She knows she’s losing weight, but she’s not... (full context)
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Fabiola’s belly hurts from laughing when, out of the blue, a girl comes up and asks... (full context)
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Kasim picks Fabiola up in his old car that afternoon. Fabiola gets in slowly, so that Tonesha sees... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Fabiola wakes up to pounding on the front door. When she goes to the window to... (full context)
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...Chantal says they need more time—they tossed the last batch because it was messed up. Fabiola can’t breathe as Uncle Q says that he still needs $20,000. This is $5,000 more... (full context)
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Fabiola wonders if he should tell Detective Stevens the truth, but she knows she can’t. That... (full context)
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Chantal shushes the twins and points to the ceiling, but Pri leaps up and finds Fabiola at the top of the stairs. Pri tells Fabiola to mind her own business, but... (full context)
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Fabiola asks how her cousins expect to get the money. Chantal explains that Uncle Q was... (full context)
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...and they don’t want her to shark anymore—but they have to make money to live. Fabiola asks what they do now. Pri tells Fabiola to stay silent, and Chantal insists that... (full context)
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Fabiola runs back to the house, but it’s locked. She steps back and stares at the... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Fabiola’s head is itchy, but the fake hair sewn into her braids means she can’t scratch.... (full context)
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One morning, Fabiola gets ready to join her cousins for chicken and waffles. Matant Jo comes out of... (full context)
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Matant Jo pays in cash and tries to give Fabiola the change. Fabiola refuses it, which offends Matant Jo. On their way out of the... (full context)
Chapter 23
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It’s Thanksgiving. Fabiola remembers how her aunt and cousins used to call her and Manman to wish them... (full context)
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...everyone stands around the table, holding hands. Both Pri and Matant Jo thank God for Fabiola’s presence, and Fabiola sobs. She cries in part because she knows that Matant Jo isn’t... (full context)
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...the first independent Black nation. As Kasim chats about food and Dray’s family’s thanksgiving feast, Fabiola thinks that nothing has changed since she learned her cousins sell drugs. Kasim finally reaches... (full context)
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In a letter to Manman, Fabiola wonders if Manman did this on purpose—did she know this was the only way to... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Now that Fabiola has new hair and clothes, she doesn’t look like a recent Haitian immigrant. This is... (full context)
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Fabiola spots Kasim far below them and waves. He makes his way up, and Fabiola realizes... (full context)
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Donna, however, insists that she’s fine and turns back to Dray. Fabiola tries to stop Donna from leaving with him, but she doesn’t know what to say.... (full context)
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Donna isn’t home yet, so Fabiola dozes. She hears Bad Leg singing a song he first sang months ago, before Fabiola... (full context)
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Fabiola hugs Donna and says that she has the battle wounds of Ezili-Danto—but Fabiola will fight... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...her next paper. She also starts wearing big sweaters and doesn’t comb her hair. Finally, Fabiola asks what’s going on. Imani insists that she “wasn’t feeling” the paper and refuses Fabiola’s... (full context)
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Fabiola sticks close to Imani and her friends as they walk to the bus stop. She... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Fabiola’s entire body hurts. She can’t follow anything that Pri and Donna say, but she does... (full context)
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Fabiola asks if Tonesha and Raquel got hurt, but Pri insists they can’t say the girls’... (full context)
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They stop at an abandoned building, but Chantal stares at Fabiola. She tells Fabiola that she’s the Fourth Bee now, teaches her how to do a... (full context)
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When Matant Jo hears about the fight, she only asks if Fabiola won against the other girls. The next day, the first day of Fabiola’s suspension, she... (full context)
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Fabiola finds Dray’s car outside. She waits for Dray to notice her and then, she taps... (full context)
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Fabiola knows she doesn’t have much time, so she compliments Dray’s eye patch. She says he... (full context)
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Dray laughs, but Fabiola leans over and kisses him. She says that she knows what it’s like to do... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Later that night, Fabiola pretends to jerk awake from a bad dream. She whisper-yells to Chantal that they can’t... (full context)
Chapter 28
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During the week of Fabiola’s suspension, Kasim takes her on a tour of Detroit. They go to the Motown museum... (full context)
Chapter 29
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Chantal warns Fabiola not to be pathetic and follow Kasim. Fabiola giggles and invites Chantal to have some... (full context)
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By 8:00 p.m., Kasim still hasn’t texted back. Fabiola takes Chantal’s advice and doesn’t text again. Instead, she puts on sweats and one of... (full context)
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Fabiola runs downstairs, throws on a coat, and races to the corner and Bad Leg. He’s... (full context)
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Fabiola keeps her head pressed on the dashboard as she tells her cousins everything. Pri wants... (full context)
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Donna accuses Fabiola of selling out Dray to get Manman. Fabiola feels awful; she betrayed Donna too. Chantal... (full context)
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The houses here are big, and Fabiola thinks that this is where dreams come true. Eventually, the girls see lights from police... (full context)
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Fabiola wants to apologize and ask why Chantal is selling drugs when she’s so smart. But... (full context)
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Fabiola runs again until she comes upon a body under a white sheet. It’s just like... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Everyone cries in the car. Fabiola wails, and Pri curses. When they reach the house, they see Dray sitting on the... (full context)
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Fabiola darts out of the car and approaches Dray. For once, he’s not wearing his eye... (full context)
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Dray grabs Fabiola by the hair and arms and drags her out of the room. Pri, Chantal, and... (full context)
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Fabiola feels like Dray’s wall is falling down—but she remembers the earthquake and how, after the... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Fabiola says that when the earthquake hit, she was in the courtyard doing laundry. She’d just... (full context)
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Fabiola forces herself to run after him, but he’s not on the street corner. She wants... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Fabiola sees Kasim’s face everywhere: she sees him in her dreams, as well as on TV,... (full context)
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In the days after Kasim’s death, Fabiola meets Kasim’s mother and speaks with Mr. Nolan and Ms. Stanley. She barely listens; everyone... (full context)
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Fabiola had to give a statement to the police, as did Chantal. Fabiola can’t write to... (full context)
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On the morning that Fabiola and her family will pick up Manman, Fabiola helps Pri load two suitcases into the... (full context)
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Pri goes back inside the house, and Fabiola looks around. She catches sight of Bad Leg near the lamppost, but just then, Chantal... (full context)
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As Chantal turns onto Joy Road, Fabiola sees Papa Legba leaning on the lamppost. He tips his hat to her, and Fabiola... (full context)