Mama's Nightingale Summary

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In Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat tells the story of Saya, whose mother is being held in an immigration detention center. Saya’s mother is an undocumented immigrant originally from Haiti who was arrested by immigration police, leaving Saya alone with her father. Saya and her father visit the detention center every week, but do not know when her mother will return home. Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother’s voice and every week she receives a cassette tape which contain her mother telling bedtime stories. Saya is inspired by her mother’s storytelling and decides to write her own story. She writes a letter and her father sends it to a newspaper reporter. Saya’s letter ends up getting published…show more content…
The title says it is a story of immigration and separation, so students can also learn about the separation that occurs in immigrant families. Although it might not fit everyone’s political view, I believe the book can be educational. The book talks about Saya’s mother not having the right papers and explains where women without papers are held. The ending also shows how Saya’s mother is brought before a judge and has to explain that she is waiting for her papers. Besides learning about immigration and separation, I feel as though students whose parents are not immigrants will still empathize with Saya’s family. They will read about how much Saya misses her mother and how difficult it is for them to communicate. Students can also see how Saya’s father persevered and did not give up on trying to get the story of Saya’s mother to the public through writing letters. Students can learn about the importance of speaking up and not staying silent, since Saya’s letter led to giving her mother’s case coverage and eventually having her mother released from the corrections facility. I do believe there are multiple things that students can learn by using this book, and that an activity on storytelling and writing letters can be used in a lesson plan with the
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