Looking West: The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant by Albert Nasib Badre Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

They say that everyone has a story to tell. Yet in our current political and societal struggles, we often forget that notion, refusing to listen to anyone else’s story other than our own. That is why stories like the one told by author Albert Nasib Badre in the novel “Looking West: The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant” are so important. The story of a young person born into one world who must adapt himself into a completely different world, and not only that, but spends a life living as an immigrant in a new nation while struggling to find meaning in his life. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

In 1960, the Badre family emigrates from Beirut, Lebanon to the United States, a dream come true for fourteen-year-old Nasib. 

Nasib struggles to assimilate as a teen in Albany, New York. With limited English skills, he attempts to learn new customs, make friends, and adapt to a different culture. In Beirut, the Badre family was well-known and socially privileged. In America, they are unknown nobodies. Nasib adopts his father’s name “Albert,” and to further Americanize his name, young Albert becomes “Al.”

Despite the many frustrations and difficulties, Al’s ultimate goal is to become a successful American. The new anonymity actually inspires the young man. Excited by the opportunities available to him in his new country, he determines to make a potent contribution to society.

As he strives to adapt, Al reads voraciously, becoming increasingly interested in religion and philosophy. Books become his “American friends,” and reading soon prompts him to ask deep theological questions about his family’s Lebanese Protestant roots, his mother’s conversion to Catholicism, and the contrast between the Protestant and Catholic faiths. This ultimately leads to his Catholic conversion.

Al’s search for meaning in life leads him to social activism among New York City’s poorest. And, in time, to graduate studies, where his desire is to improve the human condition through information technology.

Al Badre– like many other American immigrants–works his way through hardship to achieve a meaningful place in his adopted nation.

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The Review

From memories of life in Beirut and breaking tradition by dreaming of life as a writer and teacher rather than a doctor or engineer, to discovering New York City for the first time, learning about life in Albany, NY, moving to two different schools and finally the study of philosophy, religion and history. This book felt like the perfect blend of memoir and world history, as the author experiences many staggering events that are often forgotten to history books, and still manages to bring a sense of personal connectivity to the narrative. The author’s story of differing life from his time in Beirut to America, as well as the adjustments to life in the United States and finding his place in the world feels both new and familiar all at once, as we see life through the eyes of someone not born into our way of life here in the United States, and yet seeing the same struggle we all feel to define ourselves in life and the universe at large. 

The author’s sense of detail shines through in every page of the novel. The way the author describes his experiences is so captivating and moving that the reader can instantly picture themselves experiencing these things with the author. One passage in particular described the port of Beirut, where the journey to the United States began for the author, and the way the author brought the smells and sights of the area to life were so vivid that it felt as if you were right there, witnessing the majesty of the Esperia passenger ship before our very eyes. 

The Verdict 

This is a fantastic read that many readers will enjoy. Those who enjoy memoirs and studies of philosophy and history will find themselves dazzled as we see the life of a man born in Lebanon and lived in the United States. A man of two worlds in a sense, readers will feel completely connected to the author’s journey and the life he builds for himself as the novel goes on, especially the emotional roller coaster he takes readers on when he finally returns to Beirut for the first time. It’s a fascinating story that shouldn’t be missed, so if you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of “Looking West: The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant” by Albert Nasib Badre today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Albert Nasib Badre is an American author born in Beirut Lebanon. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1960 at the age of fourteen. His family made Albany, N.Y. their first home in America where he attended a private Catholic high school through his Junior year. After three years in Albany, the family moved to Iowa City, Iowa, when his father accepted a professor position at the University of Iowa. He finished his senior year at Iowa City High School, then went on to the University of Iowa where he got a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies.  After college, he spent a year as a social worker in New York City. Deciding social work was not for him, he went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of Michigan where he got his Ph.D. in 1973.

He spent the next thirty years at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and today he’s Professor Emeritus of Computing. During his tenure at Georgia Tech, he was an international consultant specializing in designing technology to enhance the human experience.  Dr. Badre was an early pioneer in the field of human-centric design, with some thirty years of experience in human-computer interaction, learning technologies, and human-centric e-learning. His background combines expertise in the empirical methodologies of the behavioral sciences and the design approaches of the computing sciences. 

Dr. Badre authored numerous technical papers, is co-editor of the book Directions in Human Computer Interaction, and the author of the book, Shaping Web Usability: Interaction Design in Context, which was adopted in several dozen courses worldwide. His memoirs, Looking West, is the story of his coming of age immigration to America and subsequent conversion to the Catholic Church.

Today, Dr. Badre and his wife live in Providence, R.I., near his son and family, where he leads a very active volunteer life, in service to the community.   

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