We Thought It Would Be Heaven: Refugees in an Unequal America (Hardcover)

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We Thought It Would Be Heaven: Refugees in an Unequal America By Blair Sackett, Annette Lareau Cover Image
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Resettled refugees in America face a land of daunting obstacles where small things—one person, one encounter—can make all the difference in getting ahead or falling behind.
Fleeing war and violence, many refugees dream that moving to the United States will be like going to Heaven. Instead, they enter a deeply unequal American society, often at the bottom. Through the lived experiences of families resettled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Blair Sackett and Annette Lareau reveal how a daunting obstacle course of agencies and services can drastically alter refugees’ experiences building a new life in America.
In these stories of struggle and hope, as one volunteer said, “you see the American story.” For some families, minor mistakes create catastrophes—food stamps cut off, educational opportunities missed, benefits lost. Other families, with the help of volunteers and social supports, escape these traps and take steps toward reaching their dreams. Engaging and eye-opening, We Thought It Would Be Heaven brings readers into the daily lives of Congolese refugees and offers guidance for how activists, workers, and policymakers can help refugee families thrive.

About the Author

Blair Sackett is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. Her next book project follows refugee families in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya.
Annette Lareau is Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Unequal Childhoods and Home Advantage.

Praise For…

“We Thought it Would be Heaven is a convincing and accessible depiction of
how refugee families in America navigate complexly interrelated institutions. . . . Refugee families . . . are astonished to learn how unequal and, at times, unjust America can be.”
— Ethnic and Racial Studies

"This is a beautifully written and clear book about the sometimes-ugly issues and often confusing situations which many refugees experience as they arrive in the United States and seek to make their lives there. . . . It is also an inspiring book, vividly relaying the views and feelings of members of families from the Democratic Republic of the Congo during their initial years in the US."

— Process North
Product Details
ISBN: 9780520379046
ISBN-10: 0520379047
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2023
Pages: 207
Language: English