At five years of age, Lior Lampert emigrates from Israel to the United States with his two brothers and his mother. A high school student “with a clear vision for his future,” Lampert candidly shares his immigrant journey to America.
The move makes perfect sense since his father’s business is headquartered in New York and the multiple trips between the two countries are quite taxing. Plus, with the intensified Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, Lior’s parents desire a better life for their growing family. Assimilation and Americanization are initially quite challenging when he goes to school. Yet in a matter of two years Lior has no accent, is wearing American clothes, plays American sports, and even understands “the plethora of cultural nuances.” Although Lior sees himself as connected to two worlds, the real irony happens when he visits Israel ten years later.
While his memoir highlights his struggles, Lampert incorporates his grandparent’s hardships, which are a stark reminder to Lampert that his trials pale in comparison. Lampert does a wonderful job capturing the essence of the isolation and awkwardness immigrants frequently experience not just with language barriers and cultural differences, but also with specific situations. These situations include the stark transition in living environs, from a small apartment to a huge home, and shopping, from small markets to a store with aisles “packed with floor-to-ceiling merchandise of every variety.”
Unique to Lampert’s narrative is how he recognizes that being different is a good thing. Grasping that concept, Lampert reaches out to a student with Down syndrome. That experience leads him to become an ACDS junior liaison team leader years later. Remembering his struggles with the English language, Lampert eventually becomes an ESL counselor-in-training at a summer camp.
LITTLE AMERICAN MAN is a comfort to those who have walked the immigrant journey and a catalyst for building compassion for those who don’t.