Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation By Edwidge Danticat


Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation

By Edwidge Danticat

Illustrated by Leslie Staub

Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

Reviewed by Eugene Yelchin for the New York Times:

The child protagonist of “Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation,” written by the accomplished novelist and memoirist Edwidge Danticat, deploys the inherent power of words to pull off the near impossible: a reunion with her mother, who is in Sunshine Correctional, “a prison for women without papers.” A child of Haitian immigrants, Saya soothes her misery over the separation by listening to her mother’s voice on the answering machine: “Tanpri kite bon ti nouvèl pou nou!” the family’s outgoing message says in Creole, which the bilingual Saya, who narrates the story, translates as “Please, leave us good news.” But no good news is forthcoming.

Nightly, Saya’s father writes letters to public officials pleading his wife’s case, but “no one ever writes him back.” After a heart-wrenching prison visit, Saya’s mother manages to send audiocassettes with bedtime stories that she has recorded for her daughter. Inspired, Saya writes her own story about her mother’s absence, and her father mails it to a newspaper reporter. When Saya’s story is published, a public outcry results in Saya’s mother’s release. “I like that it is our words that brought us together again,” Saya concludes. Skillfully written with Creole words sprinkled into the English, “Mama’s Nightingale” is richly illuminated by Leslie Staub’s oil paintings evoking Haitian folk art.

For the original review go to

For other reviews go to 

Kirkus Review

Publishers Weekly Review

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