IndieReader Review

Reviewed by Sonia Tsuruoka for IndieReader:
Uncertain Journey is, at its heart, a tale of clashing worlds, the universal pursuit of identity, and most significantly, the irrepressible will to experience life on one’s own terms.”

Read the full review; Tsuruoka writes with flare and verve.

Book of the Year Award

Uncertain Journey is a finalist in 2 categories: Literary Fiction and Multicultural!

Stories of immigrants pursuing the so-called American dream and earning a fortune grace the annals of libraries, but rags-to-riches tales are actually rare, a reality driven home in James Rouman’s vivid depiction of Rejep Etaj, a downtrodden Albanian who enters the US illegally. Read more… Foreword Book of the Year Awards.

Nashua Telegraph Review

Uncertain Journey explores shadowy world of illegal aliens

By PAUL COLLINS, Correspondent

“With his latest novel, ‘Uncertain Journey,’ Dr. James Rouman takes his readers on a perilous trek down the dark and nerve-racking corridors of the shadowy world of illegal immigration. . . Rouman has crafted a poignant story and an appealing central character who touches a nerve in us; a character who hits the on-switch in our more sensitive and human side. He has written a book that just might leave you rethinking your own position on a heated political issue.”

Visit the Nashua Telegraph to read the complete review for Uncertain Journey.

Odyssey Magazine Review

With Uncertain Journey, James Rouman delves deeper into the literature of the immigrant experience, which he first explored from the Greek American perspective in his debut novel Underwater Dreams. The ethnic background of his characters is enriched with the introduction of an Albanian man, Rejep Etaj, who dreams of a new life just as the Greek immigrants to North America once did. Rejep strikes a friendship with Eudoxia Athanasiou, a Greek American woman, and that relationship eventually blossoms into love.

Juxtaposing Rejep’s flight from Albania’s poverty to the relative riches of Greece against a similar flight, albeit from Greece to the U.S., by Eudoxia’s family decades earlier, Rouman highlights Greece’s transition from a country of immigrants to a host country-and through her mother’s prejudice against Rejep, Greek society’s bias against foreign migrants. The parallels are subtle, but exist, between the treatment of earlier generations of Greek immigrants to the U.S. and the view of the assimilated, hyphenated Americans, like Eudoxia’s family or the Hungarian building manager with whom Rejep finds work, and newer generations of foreign migrants.

With Uncertain Journey, Rouman has created more than an absorbing story for he sketches the complex web of personal and social relations in a multicultural society that can no longer absorb immigrants and pushes them towards exclusion rather than inclusion. The novel puts a face on an anonymous group-illegal or undocumented migrants live in the shadows of our societies, visible but ghostlike. Rouman tells his tale with a characteristic clarity of prose and an engaging style that draws you into his characters’ lives, even those with which you don’t sympathize.

Bryan Kontos, Odyssey Magazine

The Greek Star

“The characters are so well-defined, you find yourself not wanting to leave them, because you want to know what happens next. Do they fall in love? Does he get caught? Does Rejep stay in the US? Rejep is a hard-working man, a good person who helps others. Yet, in some respects, he is a criminal because he broke the laws of two countries, entering illegally. You get to know Rejep, knowing his history. Although I have strong feelings about illegal immigration, I found myself cheering him on in the end. I wanted him to succeed. The story will make you re-examine your own position.”
– Maria A. Karamitsos, The Greek Star. Reviewed 22 December 2011.

Kirkus Starred Review

Kirkus“Writing with a limpid prose and a shrewd sympathy for his characters, Rouman finds universality in the travails of an iconic outsider.
Seeing no future for himself in communist Albania, 21-year-old Rejep Etaj crosses the border into Greece, a clannish place where he finds only one friend—Eudoxia Athanasiou, a young Greek-American expat who is herself something of a refugee from family expectations. Shipping out on a freighter, he follows her to her home in New England; she helps him settle, and an ambivalent romance struggles to grow in the face of her bigoted mother’s disapproval and the precariousness of Rejep’s status as an undocumented alien. Rouman provides a quietly realistic yet nerve-wracking take on the practicalities of an immigrant existence. Rejep’s fate hangs on surmounting prosaic challenges such as getting past Eudoxia’s answering machine when he washes up in New Hampshire and mastering the complexities of a janitorial job given to him by a Hungarian-immigrant building manager who admires Rejep’s moxie and sees him as a readily exploitable worker. But the author also vividly illuminates his hero’s conflicted soul. Rejep is proud of having a job, but the menial labor makes him feel like a caged animal; he relishes the exhilaration of leaving Albania for the wide world, but longs for the close-knit village life he left behind. Although he feels isolated, he is awash in a sea of immigrants who are trying to construct communities for themselves, which always entails the exclusion of others whom they see as different. The end of that process is the hermetic anomie of the well-off native-born Americans in the condominium where Rejep works, a place where people live cheek by jowl yet rarely venture into a neighbor’s life. Writing with a limpid prose and a shrewd sympathy for his characters, Rouman finds universality in the travails of an iconic outsider.
A subtle, absorbing portrait of the immigrant experience.” — Kirkus Reviews, Kirkus Star for “remarkable merit”

Midwest Book Review

“The pursuit of something greater trumps everything, even the law. Uncertain
Journey
is a novel following Albanian Rejep as he seeks America for his
future. As he finds one friend who themselves risk to help him, he finds
that his troubles do not end as he leaves his war-torn country, and how he
learns the importance of the power of love and friendship through the worst
of it all. Uncertain Journey is a moving and timely read, very much
recommended.” — Midwest Book Review, 2011

Foreword Review

“An illegal immigrant is a human being, not a statistic, and this is the most important underlying message. The work of this polished author will elicit a wide range of emotion from sympathy to skepticism. Articulate and insightful, his descriptions bring to dramatic life an individual who simply wants to escape the bad conditions in his homeland for a better existence.” —
Julia Ann Charpentier Read the entire review

Odyssey Magazine Review

Odyssey Magazine says, “What sets Rouman’s novel, Underwater Dreams, apart is his insight into immigrant life in small town America … A laudable effort … an interesting addition to the literature of the Greek American immigrant experience.”

History Wire

“Jim Rouman’s book is a must-read for those seeking to understand the
immigrant experience in America and abroad.” —
Steve Goddard’s History Wire