Goodreads ratings
3.9 / 5

"America" Summary

By E.R. Frank

young adult | 242 pages | Published in NaN

For use in schools and libraries only. By age 15, America has spent years "lost in the system." America is a boy, he thinks to himself, who gets lost easily and is not worth the trouble of finding. But Dr. B. takes time to listen, to explore, and to find America.


Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

A young boy navigates the complexities of life in America as an undocumented immigrant.


"America" by E.R. Frank is a gripping novel that delves into the life of a teenage girl named America, who has found herself in the foster care system after enduring a traumatic childhood. The book takes readers on a raw and emotional journey as America grapples with her past and attempts to carve out a future for herself. Set against the backdrop of New York City, the novel explores themes of resilience, hope, and the power of human connection.

Brief Synopsis

The novel is set in New York City and follows the life of America, a teenage girl who has been placed in the foster care system due to the abuse and neglect she suffered at the hands of her parents. America is placed in a group home, where she meets a diverse group of young people who are also navigating the challenges of being in the foster care system. The story unfolds as America forms relationships with her peers, social workers, and therapists, all while confronting the trauma of her past and striving to create a better future for herself.

Plot Overview and Setting

The plot of "America" revolves around the experiences of the protagonist, America, as she navigates the complexities of the foster care system in New York City. The setting plays a significant role in the story, as the gritty urban landscape serves as a backdrop for America's journey. The city's diverse neighborhoods and communities provide a rich and dynamic environment in which America interacts with a wide range of characters and experiences.

Main Characters

The novel features a cast of compelling characters who play significant roles in America's life. These characters include:


A resilient and determined teenage girl who has endured significant trauma in her past. She is the protagonist of the story and the lens through which readers experience the challenges of the foster care system.

Mrs. Harper

America's compassionate and dedicated social worker who works tirelessly to support and advocate for America and the other young people in her care.


A fellow resident at the group home who forms a close friendship with America. Jasmine provides emotional support and companionship as America navigates the ups and downs of her journey.


A troubled young man at the group home who struggles with his own trauma and forms a complex relationship with America.

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters

1America is placed in a group home after being removed from her parents' care.
2America meets Mrs. Harper, her social worker, and begins to adjust to life in the group home.
3America forms a friendship with Jasmine, a fellow resident, and begins to open up about her past trauma.
4The group home faces challenges, and America must navigate conflicts and setbacks within the living environment.
5America confronts her past through therapy sessions and begins to envision a future for herself.
6Tensions rise among the residents of the group home, leading to a series of emotional and dramatic events.
7America's journey takes unexpected turns as she grapples with the complexities of the foster care system.
8The novel reaches a poignant and powerful conclusion as America finds moments of hope and connection.

Main Events

The novel is punctuated by several main events that shape America's journey:

  1. Placement in the Group Home: America's initial placement in the group home sets the stage for her experiences and relationships with the other residents and staff.
  2. Therapy and Healing: America's participation in therapy sessions and her gradual process of confronting and processing her past trauma are central events in the narrative.
  3. Relationship Dynamics: The evolving relationships between America, Jasmine, Tyrone, and other residents of the group home drive the emotional and interpersonal dynamics of the story.
  4. Navigating the System: America's interactions with social workers, court hearings, and bureaucratic hurdles provide insight into the challenges of the foster care system.
  5. Moments of Hope: Throughout the novel, America experiences moments of connection, support, and personal growth that offer glimmers of hope amidst the hardships she faces.

Themes and Insights

"America" explores a range of themes and insights that resonate throughout the narrative:

Resilience and Strength

The novel underscores the resilience and inner strength of young people like America, who navigate the complexities of the foster care system while grappling with trauma and adversity.

Human Connection and Empathy

The importance of human connection and empathy emerges as a central theme, as America forms deep and meaningful relationships with her peers, social workers, and therapists.

Trauma and Healing

The novel delves into the impact of trauma on young individuals and the challenging but transformative journey of healing and self-discovery.

Systemic Challenges

Through America's experiences, the novel sheds light on the systemic challenges and shortcomings of the foster care system, prompting readers to consider the broader societal issues at play.

Hope and Resilience

Ultimately, "America" offers a message of hope and resilience, celebrating the capacity for growth, healing, and finding moments of light in the midst of darkness.

Reader's Takeaway

"America" offers readers a poignant and deeply human exploration of the foster care system through the eyes of a resilient and courageous protagonist. The novel invites readers to empathize with America's journey, contemplate the complexities of the foster care system, and ultimately find inspiration in the power of hope, connection, and resilience.


E.R. Frank's "America" is a compelling and emotionally resonant novel that delves into the life of a teenage girl navigating the challenges of the foster care system in New York City. Through rich character development, evocative storytelling, and exploration of powerful themes, the novel offers readers a moving and thought-provoking literary experience. As America's journey unfolds, readers are invited to reflect on the themes of resilience, human connection, trauma, and hope, making "America" a compelling and impactful read.

America FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'America' by E.R. Frank?

    America is a young adult fiction novel, focusing on themes of identity, mental health, and social issues.

  2. What is the main storyline of 'America'?

    The novel follows the story of America, a teenage girl who is struggling with her mental health and a traumatic past. It delves into her journey of self-discovery and healing.

  3. What are the major themes explored in 'America'?

    Themes explored in 'America' include mental health, trauma, family dynamics, friendship, and the search for identity.

  4. Is 'America' suitable for young adult readers?

    Yes, 'America' is targeted towards young adult readers and addresses themes and issues relevant to this age group.

  5. What sets 'America' apart from other young adult novels?

    The raw and honest portrayal of mental health issues and the complexity of the protagonist's journey sets 'America' apart, making it a compelling and thought-provoking read.