Title: Other Words for Home
Author: Jasemine Warga
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Jude is a young girl living in Syria. Her love for family and home are challenged by the political turmoil in her town and the violence erupting in the streets. When her mother finds out that she is expecting another child, Jude’s father sends his girls to live with family in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Ohio might as well be another planet because at first Jude and her mother are treated like aliens. They try to assimilate into American culture all while clinging to the most important parts of their Syrian life. Friendships are hard for Jude at first, but as she develops her English skills in an ESL classroom she meets other students who have left their homelands behind for the promise of safety.
A story of coming-of-age during immigration to America is what sets this lyrical book apart from others in the genre.
A couple of things to note if considering this book for a young audience:
-Jude starts her period and begins wearing a hijab. The language here is not very graphic, but may not be suitable for elementary school readers.
-Violence is not depicted explicitly, but Jude’s brother, Issa, is involved with a Syrian rebellion and she worries for his safety often.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book from the Newbery List. As a high school teacher, middle grade fiction is not a genre I gravitate toward and so this was something different to break up my ensemble of YA and Literary fiction. Because this book was written for a younger audience it was a quick read. Additionally, it is a book written in verse which limits the word count on each page. This is a good option for reluctant readers because the plot is easy to follow and the words-per-page are manageable and help propel the reader quickly through the story.
I gave this book a 4-star rating on Goodreads. If you like my reviews and want to read some more, follow me on Goodreads. Also, if you follow me you can see which reviews are soon to come. If you are looking for a recommendation on what to read next, I’d love to connect on the app!
The Ameri Brit Mom