Author Laila Lalami structures Conditional Citizens as a series of personal vignettes and historical dives that are more broad than deep.
Lalami was born in Morocco and came to the US for graduate school. She stayed because she fell in love with an American, whom she married.
“Conditional citizens, in Lalami’s account, are not allowed to dissent or question the choices of their government; if they do, they are viewed with suspicion, their allegiance to their new country questioned. Conditional citizens also have less freedom of movement,” said Sonia Nazario in a review for The New York Times.
Lalami “is less insightful when she widens her lens to argue that all minorities in the United States — including people born here but of a race, faith or gender not shared by the dominant majority — are discriminated against by their government and others, a heavily worn argument,” Nazario added.
“While her book convincingly lays out the inequalities among citizens, she’s woefully short on remedies and specific ideas for achieving change,” the review said.