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Podcast: First Lady of the Mall

In telling her story of immigration from Brazil to the United States at the age of 15, Bruna Massadas recreates an adolescent world overwhelmed by Americanized fantasies: the kind ruled by blond-haired, blue-eyed beauties; the kind filled with laugh tracks and dramatic closeups and the inevitable happy ending. But she also depicts the actual America she soon encountered: high school halls crowded with immigrants and teenage hormones; nights plagued by typical worries over fashion and boyfriends, but complicated with anxieties over language and cultural assimilation.

Episode 1: White Fog

"White, machine-made fog appeared for a few seconds; but as the fog cleared out, a tall, blonde, blue-eyed woman descended onto Earth — in a spaceship."

Episode 2: Garfield T-Shirt

"When I look back at my first day of high school in America, I cannot not think of my Garfield t-shirt."

Episode 3: Welcome to Artesia High School

"I lived in an America that I wasn't expecting: an English as Second Language America."

Episode 04: Welcome to Mayfair High School

"Now, I finally did feel and look like the new girl in school, just like in the movies. I definitely looked like Alicia Silverstone from Clueless — but a Brazilian version, of course."

Episode 05: I Saw the Signs

"Suddenly, a little after a year of our arrival, we found ourselves in a country that had been invaded — with a real potential for a war."

Episode 06: First Lady of the Mall

"But in that moment, it was just me, Carlos, and Leonardo DiCaprio in the dark."

Episode 07: Pizza

"Together, Pizza Hut and the ice skating rink were like an American snow globe in the middle of tropical Rio de Janeiro."