Jude Ezeilo’s heartwarming introduction to America provides a new ethical and moral viewpoint to the country that Americans are accustomed to today. Welcome Home: A Memoir is an exchange between Ezeilo’s past and present selves, both working toward obtaining United States citizenship. Arriving at such a young age from his home country of Nigeria, two-year-old Ezeilo soon discovers the work and dedication it takes to achieve the American dream.
The struggle for Ezeilo as an immigrant gaining American citizenship reigns high in this memoir. Being one of five children and moving around often, Ezeilo was mature for his age. After he confesses that he voted in an American presidential election as an alien, the possibility of deportation and criminal charges weigh upon him. In both the pages about his youth and the pages about his adulthood, readers witness Ezeilo’s work and dedication to obtaining his citizenship. Most of us do not truly know the struggle an immigrant goes through to gain citizenship to the United States, and Ezeilo shines a light on the fear, doubt, and guilt one faces during this process. The blood, sweat, and tears would soon be worth it—or would it?
Faith is as prominent a theme in the memoir as it is in the Ezeilo family life. Throughout the two years of tentative court dates, the constant empty promises, and the death of many family members, Ezeilo had many reasons to give up on his faith. The irony is that when Ezeilo is accused of displaying "poor moral character" throughout the immigration process, those who were actually guilty were the deciders of his fate - the employees of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The underlying bullying and prejudice Ezeilo faces pushes his faith to a higher level, giving him hope instead of utter despair.
The pages of this memoir are engulfed with raw emotion and consistent fear. An unwelcome predictability of Ezeilo’s fate has his words twisting and turning in our minds for his hopeful future. The time-warp style of Ezeilo’s writing condones his heart and soul to shine through in a constant fight, for he believes this is how most of us feel—a gnawing yearning to achieve something bigger than ourselves. This is not the average coming-of-age tale as the colliding of the younger and present day selves gives a sense of déjà-vu. He writes in conclusion of his memoir:
I had finally, truly, completely come into alignment with who I was, and what I was. I felt my welcome home. To fit in. To be a part of. To blend and mesh with. To belong. This is a feeling that many take for granted, while many others value and cherish it greatly.
We have experienced this feeling before, and we will keep running into our past selves, constantly working with us, trying to achieve that new dream. We cannot rest until we have accomplished the unthinkable. Do not lose hope and do not give up faith. Be honest with yourself and acquire the support of others around you. These messages and many more examples are alive in Ezeilo’s memoir of truly conquering his American dream.