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Cheri's May 2019 pick, 1 of 3
Jude is a young girl from Syria. As tensions rise in her country, and life becomes more dangerous, Jude and her mother move to the United States to live with her Uncle. Jude struggles with missing Syria, and her father and brother. While at her Uncle’s, Jude enrolls in school and begins the difficult task of learning English and finding her place in this new country. Her cousin, Sarah, was born in the United States, but doesn’t seem interested in helping her cousin fit in. Jude also experiences strangers who seem to feel the same way. She does find a taste of home, however, when she meets Layla, whose parents own a Lebanese restaurant. As Jude perseveres, she decides to tryout for the school’s play and lands a part. Jude soon learns that she can live in both worlds. This is a lovely telling of a refugee’s story, written through poetry.
“Other Words for Home is such an important book and should be required reading for every student at a middle-grade reading level. The character of Jude teaches us empathy as we read what it’s like to be a young teenager from Syria trying to fit in in America. She tries to learn the English language while tackling discrimination and classmates unwilling to understand and accept her, including her cousin of the same age. Jasmine Warga has created a story that is both powerful and gentle, big but full of small moments, a happy but sad story that will live in your heart.”
— Marilyn Robbins, BookBar, Denver, CO
New York Times bestseller and Newbery Honor Book!
A gorgeously written, hopeful middle grade novel in verse about a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the United States, perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Aisha Saeed.
Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.
At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before.
But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.
This lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home and, most importantly, finding yourself.
Jasmine Warga's debut middle grade book, Other Words for Home, is a Newbery Honor Book. She is the author of the novels for teens My Heart and Other Black Holes, which has been translated into over twenty languages, and Here We Are Now. She lives and writes in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can visit Jasmine online at www.jasminewarga.com.
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