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Learning America by Luma Mefleh Book Review

Reasons for Reading This Book:

I was at the library looking in the stacks for a different book I was about to check out when I found the teaching/learning/studying section. As someone who loved school and has a mom who was a teacher and a sister who is about to start her first year of teaching, I started looking at the titles in this section. I have always been curious about school systems, types of learning and other topics related to education. The title Learning America by Luma Mufleh stood out to me on the shelf. I read the summary and knew that I would like it so I put it on my to read list and went back and picked it up a couple of weeks later. I was intrigued by this book because it intertwined two different topics, the American education system and refugees’. The summary peaked my interest and I couldn’t wait to start reading it.

Content of This Book:

One evening Luma Mufleh, a Muslim, gay, refugee woman from hyper-conservative Jordan- finds herself in a pickup soccer game with 11 and 12 year old refugees from Liberia, Afghanistan, and Sudan. Together her and the refugees develop a bond that turns into her coaching them for a soccer league and in their school studies. The more she is pulled into their lives the more she learns about their lives at school and home. She discovers that most of her players are failing in school and do not know how to read. In her fight for educational justice for her original soccer team, Luma created a nationally acclaimed network of schools for refugee children that follows a team-based theory and curriculum designed to meet them where they were at and bring them up to graduation level. Luma tells her story of refusing to fail the refugees while also finding a family for herself after losing the one she had. Luma not only tells her story but the stories of many of her players/students.

What I Liked About This Book:

Yes, this book is categorized as a memoir but it is more than that. Luma not only shares her life story, but also the stories of those she coached in soccer, at the schools, the refugees’ parents, and her advice and theories for how she runs her schools. I loved the aspect of soccer and the importance of being a team. I have loved soccer my whole life and loved that it was the center point for both Luma and her fight for educational justice. I always appreciate when an author of a memoir includes the stories of those who most impacted them and does not just focus on their trials and successes. Luma would tell a story with a clear lesson and then transition into how she applied the lesson from that experience or story into a teachable moment or how it shaped the foundation and practices of the refugee schools. Luma was an extremely vulnerable author who shared her struggles openly and honestly. Even though not all readers can relate to her personal struggles one can empathize for her and understand her drive to provide for the refugees. The writing is conversational yet informative, literary, and easy to read. I agree with the choice to tell a story and then apply the lesson into a teachable moment or practice to be used at the school. Luma was honest with the reader about times when she thought she was making the right decision but did not and would then reflect on why it was not the right choice and how she would change or prevent it from happening again. Lastly, it was refreshing to read about refugees from all different counties, their reasons for leaving, and their journey to get to the United States. This was a nice change from reading a book that is focused on refugees from a single country. This made for more depth in the culture and provided more insight into the differences between them. Luma perfectly blended together her life story, the stories of the refugees’ and how she created schools where refugee students could succeed.

What I Disliked About This Book:

Something that left me wanting more was to learn why exactly the Georgia Public School system was failing the refugees. I understand that the refugees were not retaining the material and thus unable to advance in their education, but why exactly they were failing. I was left wanting to know more from the perspective of the Georgia public school system teachers or administration. I get that this was a memoir focused on Luma and her efforts to provide an adequate educational and personal environment where these students were able to succeed, but as someone who is a problem-solver I was looking for advice or ways a teacher in the public school system could provide more assistance to refugee students who don’t have access to one of Luma’s schools. This is my only real complaint about the book. 

Would I Recommend This Book?

This is a memoir with a purpose that all readers should read. There are teachable lessons that apply to everyone. Everyone should read this book.

Check out my book reviews for 2023!!

Horse by Geraldine Brooks  
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Hester by Laurie Pico Albanese
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Environmental and Sustainability Book Reviews 2022
Self-Improvement Book Reviews 2022
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Not All Diamonds and Rosé by Dave Quinn
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham 
Girls With Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman
Run, Rose, Run by James Patterson and Dolly Parton
The Summer Series by Jenny Han
A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard
The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives by Brian Moylan
Verity by Colleen Hoover
All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart 
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Majesty: American Royals 2 by Kathrine McGree
Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre

Check out my book reviews for 2021!!

2021 Book Rankings

Beach Read By Emily Henry
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Educated by Tara Westover
The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig 
The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins 
We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins 
We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Klara and the Sun 
The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner
American Duchess by Karen Harper 
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Girl With No Job by Claudia Oshry
Down the Habit Hole by Holly Madison Book Review
My Story by Elizabeth Smart
Layla by Colleen Hoover

Check out my book reviews for 2020!!

Check out my book reviews for 2019!!

Check out my book reviews from 2018!!

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