The following piece is published as part of our TLM Young Writers series, a dedicated section of The London Magazine‘s website which showcases the work of exceptional young talent aged between 13-21, from the UK and beyond.

Amadea Hofmann

Come On In by Adi Alsaid

Come On In, Adi Alsaid, Inkyard Press, 256pp, 2020, £12.99 (hardback)

A woman leaving behind her home country to attend university in the United States. Iranian relatives tearfully reuniting at a wedding after years of being separated. A girl struggling to communicate with her Venezuelan grandmother after forgetting most of her mother tongue. Adi Alsaid unites fifteen different stories in the topical and touching anthology Come On In, transporting the reader to Fiji, Argentina, India, Australia, and many more places around the world. The amalgamation of different stories paints a broader picture of the experiences of immigration, with all its joys, heartbreaks, and triumphs. Although the stories have distinctly unique circumstances, they all share a common thread: the trials and tribulations of the immigrant experience.

The reader joins young adults from all walks of life as the authors explore both the commonalities of the immigrant experience and the uniqueness of each individual’s circumstances. In Lilliam Rivera’s ‘Salvation and the Sea,’ the reader gets stopped at a checkpoint with an undocumented citizen in the car. In Varsha Bajaj’s ‘First Words,’ the reader hears the newly-immigrated protagonist’s thoughts when she is too scared to speak to any of her classmates, in fear of embarrassing herself. In Sona Charaipotra’s ‘The Trip,’ the reader finds themselves in an interrogation room, as airport security questions a high school girl embarking on a school trip. This anthology humanises situations experienced by marginalised groups whose recurrence desensitises them to many. Come On In also raises important questions of identity: What defines a home? How does culture shape one’s identity? In what ways do assumptions and stereotypes have tangible ramifications? In his contribution, Ali Alsaid makes a poignant observation on how immigrants are perceived differently based on where they are emigrating from:

Fleeing, leaving, moving. The world seemed to have very different reactions to each, somehow hating people more the less choice they had.

If you had options and chose the United States, could afford the visas and the tuition, you were the right kind of immigrant. If the only choice you had was to leave or die, to maybe die in the act of leaving, to live a harder life than everyone else in the new country, well, then, you were a scourge.

Come On In showcases a broad spectrum of emotions and experiences that comprise the immigrant experience. Tales of painful goodbyes and hopeful welcomes; families coming together and being separated. The authors, who are themselves immigrants and the children of immigrants, contribute unique voices and perspectives. Their stories weave together to explore themes of family, adversity, coming-of-age, identity, and culture. Whether they are an immigrant or not, each reader will find a piece of themselves in the stories Alsaid has selected. The larger themes of the immigrant experience apply to everyone, regardless of circumstance. After all, these are not just stories of immigrants, but stories of humans.



Amadea Hofmann is 18 years old, currently on a gap year, and due to study law at the London School of Economics in September.


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