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My new American life
Francine Prose
Adult Fiction PROSE

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The story of a good-hearted immigrant doubles as a snapshot of America during Bush II's second term in Prose's uneven latest. Lula is a 26-year-old Albanian working an undemanding au pair gig in New Jersey. Her employer, Stanley, is a forlorn Wall Street exec recently abandoned by his mentally disturbed wife. He asks only that Lula see to the simple needs of his son, Zeke, a disaffected high school senior. Soon, Stanley and one of his friends, a high-profile immigration lawyer, are taken with the tale-telling, mildly exotic Lula (who speaks English flawlessly) and get to work on securing her citizenship. Lula's gig is cushy if dull, a condition relieved when three Albanian criminals, led by the charming Alvo, arrive at Stanley's house with a quiet demand that Lula harbor a (Chekhovian) gun for them. Prose seeks to show America through the fresh eyes of an outsider with a deeply ingrained, comic pessimism born of life under dictatorship, yet also capable of exuberant optimism, and the results, like Lula, are agreeable enough but not terribly profound. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Desperate to stay in America-she's in New York on a tourist visa that's close to giving out-26-year-old Albanian Lula accepts a job in suburban New Jersey as caretaker to woebegone teenager Zach, whose crazy mother upped and left on Christmas Eve. He and his father have since lived in mutually befuddled silence, though Mister Stanley, as Lula calls Zach's dad, is doing his best. The kindly Mister Stanley even arranges for a lawyer friend to assure Lula's legal status. Then, the day after she's got her papers, a black SUV pulls up in front of the house, and the three young men who pile out lay claim to Lula's attention because they're Albanian, too. Lula goes along with their request to hide a gun, then goes along for a ride and falls for the ringleader, Alvo. Soon she's doing what's she's done all along to survive, fabricating at will to explain her relationship to Alvo while trying to steer Zach away from the abyss. Her hopefulness and initiative contrast sharply with the lassitude and utter cluelessness of her host family. VERDICT Does Lula get the new American life she wants so badly? In this sparkling new work by Prose (Blue Angel), she's on her way. An illuminating and ultimately upbeat look at America's immigrant situation that all fiction readers will enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/10.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Lula
Age: 26
Albanian; visa is expiring; looking for the American dream; becomes a caregiver to Zeke.

Age: 18

Don Settebello
Immigration lawyer; represents Lula.

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