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Book Review

Aliens of Extraordinary Ability

 

Written by: Maeve Higgins, Shaina Feinberg
Narrated by: Maeve Higgins
Genres: Humor | Fiction
Published: 11th of July, 2019
Length: 4 Hours 51 Minutes

 

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Description
Funny, sad and brilliantly human, this timely original series follows five friends—lovable but sometimes infuriating—as they make a life for themselves in New York City. The tie that binds them? They are all immigrants, struggling to find their place in an increasingly hostile America.

Sadie, fresh from her small hometown in Ireland tries out for the elusive O1 visa—meaning she has three months to prove she is an ‘alien of extraordinary ability.’ She joins a collective called ‘Nature Fans’, whose members are also on a clock, all trying to figure out how to stay in the country. Together they alternately fight and work the system, growing close in the process.

Brother and sister Rodrigo and Erika are from a mixed status family and have wonderful and busy lives in NYC. Rodrigo, desperate not to go back to Mexico but sick of living in the shadows, gets politically active. Tam is smart, handsome and Haitian, when he finds out he’s about to lose his legal status, he uses his charm to find a marriage to save him. Mazen, the loveliest Lyft driver you’re likely to meet, awaits his asylum interview and tries to forget about his life back in Syria, only to discover that he needs to stay connected or his heart will break.

The stakes couldn’t be higher—an adventure story, a love story, a story of borders and the people who cross them—can they stay in this country they call home?

 

Morgan Hobbes
Morgan Hobbes

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Reviewed: 2020-10-28

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Emotionally Charged, Funny and Sad
An excellent story looking at a group of people as they struggle with the immigration system of present-day America, and how different circumstances play out. Authors Maeve Higgins and Shaina Feinberg have put together a thoroughly engaging... I want to say "slice of life", but as I'm writing this, I can think of a better term.

We closely follow Sadie through her journey of arriving in New York, fresh off the plane from Ireland. She is somewhat disingenuous in her plans, as while she states she's there for fun she really wants a green card to stay permanently. Then she meets Mazen, a Syrian refugee and Lyft driver trying to get permanent asylum. He introduces her to a number of other characters, most of whom are also trying to get permanent visas to stay.

Sadie decides she needs to try for the "Aliens of Extraordinary Ability" - basically someone who possesses a talent so extraordinary they should be granted a visa in the national interest (think John Lennon, Yoko Ono, ... Psy (Gangnam Style) ...). To accomplish this - InstaFame!

Of course, it works out, and she becomes a hit with her Immigrants of New York, telling their stories. Along the way we are treated to some real depth of characters though as much as Sadie skims across the surface (white privilege at its finest?)

One thing that did irk me a little was the need for long instrumentals at the end of each chapter. After the first one, I found myself hitting the "skip 30" button a few times to bypass it. Unnecessary, yet it seems to be cropping up more and more often.

Voiced by a whole cast of characters, I thought they all did a wonderful job making them come to life. A unique, diverse bunch of people all united with a common cause, I think they all did the work justice.

I was a little sad when it ended. I would have loved to hear more from the lives of these people... well, most of them. Sadie's roommate (I'm blanking on his name!) and work colleague was a horribly self-centred person who I enjoyed disliking.

Give it a listen, and I dare you not to feel moved by these people.

 

 

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