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About An American Immigrant

A Colombian American journalist tries to save her career by taking an assignment somewhere she never thought she’d go—Colombia—in this heartwarming debut novel about rediscovering our family stories.

“A beautiful homage to a mother’s bravery and to the grace and grit that is our inheritance.”—Alicia Menendez, MSNBC anchor and creator and host of the Latina to Latina podcast

Twenty-five-year-old Melanie Carvajal, a hardworking but struggling journalist for a Miami newspaper, loves her Colombian mother but regularly ignores her phone calls, frustrated that she never quite takes the time to understand Melanie’s life. When the opportunity arises for a big assignment that might save her flagging career, Melanie follows the story to the land of her mother’s birth. She soon realizes Colombia has the potential to connect her, after all these years, to something she’s long ignored: her heritage, the love of her mother, her family, and the richest parts of herself. 

Colombia offers more than a chance to make a name for herself as a writer. It is a place of untold stories.

Inspired by real-life events, An American Immigrant is a story of culture and community, of abiding commitment to family, and of embracing our culture and the generations that have come before.


“A beautiful homage to a mother’s bravery and the grace and grit that is our inheritance. An American Immigrant is a clarion call to water our roots and refuse to allow those we love to be lost in translation.”—Alicia Menendez, MSNBC anchor and creator and host of Latina to Latina podcast

“In a yearning and humbling journey to the place of her mother’s birth, a fictional Miami journalist discovers her innermost worth by yielding to family truth, creative courage, and cultural clarity—which she needs to give both her heart and the hard world her authentic best. An enchanting, brave, and uplifting story of discovery, family love, and determined hope.”—Patricia Raybon, Christy Award–winning author of the Annalee Spain Mystery series and My First White Friend: Confessions on Race, Love, and Forgiveness

“In An American Immigrant, Johanna Rojas Vann delivers a powerful exploration of the risks we face in pursuit of a better life. By weaving a compelling and emotional tale, she offers readers a fresh examination of identity, truth, generational sacrifice, and the real meaning of home. Ideal for book clubs, this story will have people talking.”—Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Perennials

“Johanna Rojas Vann takes readers on a journey that brings about knowledge, empathy, relatability, connection, and empowerment. The food and culture made me want to dig up recipes and follow in Melanie’s shoes in An American Immigrant and celebrate the blessings God brings us. Readers don’t want to miss this uplifting story!”—Toni Shiloh, Christy Award–winning author

“Not only does An American Immigrant celebrate tradition and cultural exploration, but it is a captivating journey of self-discovery that serves as a powerful reminder that it’s never too late to go after your dreams on your own terms. Melanie’s story is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the power of family and the true meaning of home.”—Courtney Dyksterhouse, media personality and former news anchor

“I don’t usually read fiction, but Johanna’s storytelling gripped me from the start, and I wasn’t able to put An American Immigrant down. I highly recommend this book!”—Jordan Raynor, bestselling author of Redeeming Your Time and Called to Create

About Johanna Rojas Vann

Johanna Rojas Vann is a professional writer whose work can be found online and within numerous publications. She is a second-generation Colombian American, with dual citizenship, and lives with her husband and children in Nashville, Tennessee.

Product Details

352 pages | Published by WaterBrook

On Sale Date: Aug 15, 2023

Trim Size: 5-1/2 x 8-1/4

Carton Quantity: 24

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Young journalist Melanie Carvajal struggles in her career while expertly avoiding her mother, until a trip to Colombia opens her eyes to her mother’s complicated and painful past. An encouraging novel about culture, community, family and reconciliation, An American Immigrant spans generations and countries and is inspired by real-life events.

Press Release

Media Contact: Elizabeth Groening, Publicity & Marketing Assistant

An American Immigrant
By Johanna Rojas Vann
A WaterBrook Novel | August 15, 2023

Professional Writer and Second-Generation Colombian American Delivers a Debut Inspired by Real Life and Full of Heritage and Heart

WaterBrook’s forthcoming fiction release, An American Immigrant (8/15/23) will not only be devoured by fans of contemporary women’s fiction and inspirational faith fiction but will be embraced by anyone who enjoys stories of self-discovery. . . and really good food. First-time author Johanna Rojas Vann transforms her personal experience as a second-generation Colombian American into a compelling, utterly relatable work of fiction, exploring complex themes such as identity, tri-generational family dynamics, and reconciliation.
Publishers Weekly predicts that “readers will be moved” by Vann’s “textured, emotionally nuanced rendering of complicated cultural loyalties and the ultimate transcendence of family connection.” Furthermore, Alicia Menendez, MSNBC anchor and host of the Latina to Latina podcast, believes it to be “a beautiful homage to a mother’s bravery and to the grace and grit that is our inheritance.”
A story defined by culture and community; An American Immigrant follows 25-year-old Melanie Carvajal as she navigates the unknowns of post-grad life. While working her first job at a Miami newspaper, she’s fallen into a pattern of ignoring her mom’s calls while also struggling to keep up at work. However, when a story assignment arises that could save her fledgling career, she must travel to the land of her mother’s birth. After years of avoiding the mere mention of Colombia, her trip leads her to discover that everything she’s ignored, from her mother’s country to her own heritage, make up the richest parts of herself.
“My hope is that readers will dig into their own family origin stories and explore how they can keep their own family stories alive, no matter how messy they are,” Johanna says.
For more information, visit

Johanna Rojas Vann is a professional writer whose work can be found online and within numerous publications. She is a second-generation Colombian American, with dual citizenship, and lives with her husband and children in Nashville, Tennessee. Her writing has appeared in Good Grit Magazine, Grit and Grace Life, and on her own blog, where you can read about her personal experience as “An Immigrant’s Daughter.”

For more information, visit
Facebook: @johannarvann
Instagram: @johannarvann
Goodreads: @johanna-vann

  • Inspired by a true story. In An American Immigrant, Johanna fictionalizes her personal experience navigating two cultures as a second-generation American after learning the truth about her mother’s journey to America. When Johanna’s mom was only 25, she left her family and life in Colombia behind for a new life in America. The journey her mother never wanted to take led to a life she still can’t believe is real for herself and her family today.
  • Real stories, real recipes, real poems. Johanna is deeply grateful to have transformed her mother’s life story into a heart-warming, entertaining novel. In An American Immigrant, Melanie, the main character, reads her mom’s journal entries, which uncover hard truths about her mother’s border crossing—the journal entries are true stories about her mother’s experience immigrating to the U.S. Meanwhile, the meals featured in the book are inspired by Johanna’s favorite foods her late grandmother used to make, and the poems are real poems her grandmother wrote to her mom. 
  • Embracing who you are. Every human has an innate longing to discover who they are and where they come from. Johanna can discuss the power of uncovering multi-generational stories and the impact learning about your ancestry can have on your future. She also enjoys discussing the unique challenges children of immigrants face in the U.S. today. This book will appeal to anyone who is excited to dig into their roots, enjoys reading about messy families, and is looking for books by Hispanic authors that highlight their unique life experiences.

1.     What is An American Immigrant about? What led you to write it?
2.     How did you first discover your mom’s stories? What was the most surprising story you heard?
3.     The main character, Melanie, spent much of her life disconnected from her heritage. Did you ever feel that? If so, what helps you connect to your Colombian roots?
4.     How has the book changed your relationship with your mom?
5.     Many of your characters are strong women. Where did that inspiration come from?
6.     What was your writing process? What part did you enjoy the most?
7.     What are a few of your favorite books that feature Hispanic heritage?
8.     What was your writing process? What part did you enjoy the most?
9.     What core message do you hope readers take away from An American Immigrant?
By Johanna Rojas Vann
A WaterBrook Trade Paperback | On Sale 8/15/23
ISBN: 9780593445556 | eBook ISBN: 9780593445563

For review copy & interview requests, please contact Elizabeth Groening @

Contact Publicist

Elizabeth Groening,