Review of Other Words for Home

Other Words for Home
by Jasmine Warga
Intermediate, Middle School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    342 pp.
5/19    978-0-06-274780-8    $16.99   
e-book ed.  978-0-06-274782-2    $8.99

Warga’s (My Heart and Other Black Holes, rev. 1/15) latest book is a middle-grade and middle-school novel written in free verse and narrated by a Syrian girl named Jude. The first signs of things going wrong in her world are arguments between Jude’s older brother, who is dedicated to the cause of a free and democratic Syria, and their father, who wants stability even if that means allegiance to the oppressive President Assad. When military fighting comes dangerously near their hometown, Jude and her mother leave their home and family to come to the United States, where Jude’s uncle lives with his American wife and their daughter. Starting school, improving her English in an ESL classroom, making new friends, and taking part in a school play are challenges in Jude’s new life, as is dealing with the ugliness of Islamophobia and being brave: both for her pregnant mother and to fulfill her promise to her beloved brother, now missing in a war zone. But Jude is strong enough to face all challenges. Her voice throughout is convincing and authentic, infused with thoughtfulness, humor, determination, and hope. Her adjustment period upon arrival in the United States offers a realistic portrait of the strength it takes to move to a new country, as well as of the complicated dynamics between first- and second-generation immigrants.

From the July/August 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Autumn Allen
Autumn Allen
Autumn Allen is an educator, writer, critic and independent scholar of children's and young adult literature.

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