cover image After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America

After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America

Jessica Goudeau. Viking, $27 (334p) ISBN 978-0-525-55913-9

Journalist Goudeau presents a richly detailed account of the resettlement experiences of two women granted refugee status in the U.S. Mu Naw fled Myanmar in 1989, at age five, and grew up in Thai refugee camps. She came to Austin, Tex., in 2007 with her husband and two young daughters, and Goudeau chronicles the family’s struggles with the language barrier, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress. Hasna al-Salam’s story begins in Daara, Syria, in 2011, when clashes between the Syrian Army and antigovernment protesters separated her from her adult children. Told by immigration authorities that her children could follow her through the family reunification process, Hasna made it to the U.S. in 2016. However, passage of the Trump administration’s travel ban scuttled those plans. Goudeau interweaves the stories of Mu Naw and Hasna with the history of refugee legislation in America, from the 1948 Displaced Persons Act to the 1980 Federal Refugee Resettlement Program and the raising of the refugee quota by President Obama just before the 2016 election. Her excellent interview skills and obvious empathy for her subjects make the family portraits utterly engrossing, and the history sections provide essential context. This moving and insightful dual portrait makes an impassioned case for humane immigration and refugee policy. Agent: Mackenzie Brady Watson, the Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency. (Aug.)