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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Finding the Author online:

https://www.badremusings.com/

Amazon Link

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43691926-looking-west

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Under A Coyote Moon (Vol I of V) by Josh Holliday Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The struggle of illegal immigrants entering the United States gets a new perspective in author Josh Holliday’s novel “Under A Coyote Moon (Vol I of V)”. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

A (Memoir of Migrant Forced To Travel 2,000 Miles From El Salvador Atop Trains & Swim The Rio Grand River) and other True stories of migrants travels and troubles and prices they had to pay to reach the Mexican/American border; then how they managed to sneak across and enter the U.S. complete with 50 Color Images to enhance the stories.

The Review

Now in full disclosure to the audience and the author, I myself lean more to a democrat way of thinking and political mindset than Republican. I mention this not because I like talking about it often, but in this day and age there are many topics that I feel need to be spoken about in an open and honest way. This book brings up a major topic of debate that is incredibly relevant and needs to be discussed. Before I begin I want to applaud the author for contributing 25% of proceeds to help children caught up in the illegal immigration struggle. No matter what side you fall all, everyone should agree that children are innocent and shouldn’t be persecuted.

The author does a great job of highlighting the struggles of immigrants entering the United States illegally. While it may be illegal, the horrors they face in their home country forces these innocent people to flee for their lives, believing in the promise the US once represented of hope and a beacon for all the world to look up to. Sadly because of their desperation and need for safety, others take advantage of their situation. From the tight border patrol agents doing what is mandated and capturing anyone crossing the border, to the criminal “coyotes” and those running stash houses for immigrants who mistreat those crossing the border and keep them for days or even weeks until they are paid.

For me as a reader and reviewer, I must approach this and look at the topic from my own belief in a democratic society. The need to help and stop the heinous mistreatment of immigrants and the horrible policies of the current US administration is something I fully believe in. While a system of vetting immigrants is smart, locking up and separating children from their families and punishing those seeking to escape violence and persecution (i.e. abused women and children, young men seeking to escape gangs who want them to join them, families fleeing police brutality, etc) is horrendous and needs to be stopped.

The difficult thing is this topic can be very divisive, as are all politics. While I personally feel immigration and the current state of immigration shouldn’t be politicized, it’s the way things are for now. We are talking about peoples lives here, and we should be respectful and willing to lend a hand. The propaganda surrounding immigration can be discounted with a little bit of research and open mindedness. While I am a democrat, pro-Obama person, I try to keep an open mind and look at things from both sides. Yes gang violence in South America is a problem, as are drugs. Yet not all illegal immigrants are part of the problem. Instead they are seeking to escape those problems, and if given the chance could help improve our nation as a whole. We are a country of immigrants after all, who settled here (and conquered, let’s face it), seeking to escape persecution themselves, do we not owe it to the people south of the border to give them that same chance?

This review is a lot longer than most, but I feel passionately about this topic and live in a time where one cannot be silent and sit on the sidelines. I applaud the author for showing both sides of the immigration struggle, as it shows that no matter what our differences may be, the recognition of great injustice and the need for acceptance is a universal trait we can all get behind. While there are a handful of grammatical errors that could be improved in future novels, this first entry into the series showcases the author’s commitment and detailed research into the topic. Impressively the stories told reflect the real life struggles of many immigrants, both from the point of fleeing their homes to being trapped by criminals on both sides of the border and the hardships they have to endure for most of their life because of their “illegal” status.

The Verdict

Overall this was a fascinating read. While I may disagree on some points from a political belief’s standpoint, I do agree that immigration is an issue that needs a fair, safe and caring approach. I think the author did a great job of showcasing the struggles of immigrants based on his interviews with some of those immigrants. If anything, this book makes me yearn for the day where we can truly be a nation of equals, no matter what your race, gender, sexual orientation, or even nation of origin. I believe in the original idea for the United States, which was to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. While the nation has it’s dark moments in history, (like we face now), I have to hold onto hope for a brighter, more accepting and peaceful tomorrow. If you haven’t yet pick up your copy of Josh Holliday’s “Under A Coyote Moon (Vol I of V)” today!

Rating: 7/10

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1129615945?ean=2940156146307

About the Author

Josh is a former carpet layer and carpenter who lived and worked in California from 1970 to 2000. He now lives in Florida where he divides his time between writing interesting books, managing Real Estate part-time and playing the Blues-Harmonica.

Additionally he plays bottleneck guitar and writes songs.