Waking Up American includes original work by women who are either American-born of at least one foreign-born parent or who immigrated to the United States during childhood. The writers explore what it means to feel caught between two worlds—neither wholly American nor wholly a part of another heritage.
Cultures represented include the Philippines, Germany, India, Mexico, China, Iran, Nicaragua, Japan, Russia, and Panama, among others, and are often juxtaposed with a bicultural reality, having been raised by parents who simultaneously embrace and question American values. Essays trace themes of rebellion and conformity, pride and uncertainty, sexuality and sense of self, and a heightened awareness of what it means to be "other."
These narratives examine the part cultural identity plays in creating strong, independent, hyphenated American women whose experiences are part of what makes the United States the intriguing cultural amalgamation that so many diverse peoples are proud to call home.