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The Immigrant Advantage: What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness and Hope

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From an award-winning journalist comes a fascinating exploration of the life-enhancing customs that immigrant groups have brought with them to the U.S. and of how we can all improve our lives by adapting them.

With the subject of immigration hotly debated across the nation, one journalist offers a unique perspective on the subject. Claudia Kolker takes us into immigrant communities from a range of cultures, from Mexican to Jamaican and South Asian, to introduce us to a set of ...

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The Immigrant Advantage: What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness and Hope

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Overview


From an award-winning journalist comes a fascinating exploration of the life-enhancing customs that immigrant groups have brought with them to the U.S. and of how we can all improve our lives by adapting them.

With the subject of immigration hotly debated across the nation, one journalist offers a unique perspective on the subject. Claudia Kolker takes us into immigrant communities from a range of cultures, from Mexican to Jamaican and South Asian, to introduce us to a set of fascinating customs that enrich the lives of many in those communities and can make life more enjoyable—and even healthier—for us all.

According to “the immigrant paradox,” discovered by social scientists, first generation immigrants in the U.S. tend to be healthier than the average American. As Kolker discovered during her extensive research, the customs they bring with them may be one reason for this. The Immigrant Advantage details seven of these, including Vietnamese money clubs, Mexican cuarentenas (a forty day period of rest for new mothers after childbirth), Vietnamese monthly rice allotments (a service that provides individuals and families with hot meals delivered right to their doors every night), and Jamaican multigenerational households, which offer appealing solutions to issues we all face, whether it’s how to save more money, make time for a home-cooked meal, or afford college.

Taking us into the living rooms, kitchens, restaurants, and neighborhoods of specific communities across the country—from Chicago to Houston to Nashville—and introducing us to an array of diverse and meaningful customs with rich detail and a personal touch, even trying many of them herself, Kolker presents journalism at its best, educating readers with stories that engage their curiosity and enrich their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Journalist Kolker investigates the imported traditions and attitudes toward health, hard work, and education that give newcomers an edge over the native-born. In a yearlong experiment, Kolker finds that the Vietnamese money club’s enforcement of savings through friendly peer pressure also works for her group of Texan friends, helping them save for taxes and vacations. She discovers how hanging out on the stoop or the corner in barrios fosters social bonds that might explain why some of the poorest immigrant communities have some of the best health outcomes—the so-called “immigrant paradox” researchers have puzzled over for decades. She test-drives a version of the Mexican cuarantena—a period of postchildbirth rest and companionship that may protect against postpartum depression—and she implements the demanding Korean approach to studying to help her daughter learn math. Other topics explored include Vietnamese monthly rice services that help students and working mothers get dinner on the table; Jamaican multigenerational living and its benefits for home ownership; and the South Asian assisted marriage, with its blend of old-school parental oversight and modern freedom of choice. Kolker’s explorations teach and entertain with their curiosity, can-do spirit, and vibrant bouquet of cultures and customs. (Nov.)
Amy Chua
“What a fabulous, fun, eye-opening read: Colorful writing with a flair is not incompatible with deep insight and wisdom!”
Daphne Miller
“Live like an immigrant...How rare to find an intelligent, engrossing book that doubles as a dispensary! The Immigrant Advantage is chock-full of novel, useful prescriptions for a happy, healthy life.”
author of The New York Times bestseller Born to Ru Christopher McDougall
“Such a smart and thrilling ride. I had no idea I was surrounded by daily exotic adventures until I opened The Immigrant Advantage. Now that I've read it, I can't wait to live it.”
Kyriakos S. Markides
“A wonderful positive portrayal of immigrant customs and contributions much needed and much welcome at a time of so much confusion about the foreign-born who live among us.”
From the Publisher
Named one of O Magazine’s 10 Titles to Pick Up Now
author ofTheNew York TimesbestsellerBorn to Run Christopher McDougall

“Such a smart and thrilling ride. I had no idea I was surrounded by daily exotic adventures until I openedThe Immigrant Advantage. Now that I've read it, I can't wait to live it.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416586821
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 10/18/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Claudia Kolker is an award-winning writer who has written for the Los Angeles Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Slate, among others. She is currently a Contributing Editor to the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board and lives in Houston, Texas.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    Definitely a Must-Read

    Wonderful book of unique examples of the assimilation of immigrants and the special customs they incorporate into their lives. We can all learn something new to try, which the author did, and enjoy the opportunity to expand our experiences in such worthwhile manners. The author certainly did her research, and it's fun to read of her adventures.

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