My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Note: Review of an Advance Reader’s Copy sent on a #BookExcursion | Book Releases May 2019
Other Words for Home is a beautifully penned novel in verse told in six parts about a Syrian girl who leaves her country for the first time to visit her uncle who lives “an ocean away in America,” during a time when revolution and war grows ever nearer to her city. Hers is a story about family. Friendship. Love of country, for a town that used to be “a place for people to laugh and enjoy all the things that unite them like family and sunshine and the sea and good food.”
I love that Jude and her best friend Fatima are into American movies and that they admire Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts. That they sing along to American Pop music and are fans of Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey. Her father loves his family and is so charged with the duty of their safety and stability as the highest priority. He owns a store where he sells convenience items to tourists. Her brother Issa cares about his country and understands the importance of taking a stand for what is right even in the face of peril. He believes in change and longs for free elections and democracy for everyone. Her mom is brave and wise and shares in her husbands growing fear for what may be coming. When the decision is made to leave, it means that Jude will be leaving Baba and Issa behind.
Living in America brings challenges of its own. Learning English. Getting to know her American family. Making new friends and figuring out where she fits in, all while worrying about Baba and Issa back home.
Other Words for Home gives the reader a window into immigration and what it feels like to long for home while trying at the same time to make a new home in America. It includes a glossary of Arabic words and an author’s note at the end of the book. Jasmine Warga has created a masterful middle grade debut; one that belongs in every classroom and library. It is well suited for upper elementary and middle school, and would likely also be a book that high school students would be interested in reading. I now count this among some of my other favorite novels in verse like The Poet X (Elizabeth Acevedo), Long Way Down (Jason Reynolds), and The Crossover (Kwame Alexander & Mary Rand Hess).
Jasmine Warga | http://jasminewarga.com/
Balzer & Bray
An imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
Book Excursion | PLN Group of Rockstar Reading Educators| #BookExcursion
A few #BookSnaps I made using PicCollage