Jude is a 12-year-old girl living on the beach in Syria, watching American movies with her friends and hanging out at her dad’s store. With an older brother and a little sister on the way, life as told from her own perspective is pretty good. Until it is not. Until the crimes they only hear about happening in Aleppo and Damascus start to hit closer to home. Until her brother starts sneaking out to meetings with other youth hoping to change the politics of their country. Until a raid almost catches Jude and her brother and her parent’s decide it is time for Jude and her mother to journey to America, for a little while, to visit her mom’s brother and deliver the baby.
America is not like it is in the 90’s movies that Jude loves: Pretty Woman, Legally Blond, Miss Congeniality. Her American aunt and her Uncle that seems to have forgotten his Syrian upbringing, are gracious and welcoming and their daughter, Sarah, who is less than a year older than Jude and waxes and wanes in her approach to her cousin. Adjusting to school, life without baba and her brother, and all the other adaptations that moving to a new country entail are brought to life through Jude’s eyes and understanding of the world around her. As she comes of age and decides to wear hijab, as Islamaphobia shakes her sense of justice and her little sister is born, the reader sees her grow and change and mature and find themselves hoping that she will soar.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love that the style of the story telling somehow gives life to so much. With verse some things are highlighted in detail and other things skimmed over and yet at the end, not only do you feel like you understand Jude, but a lot of the side characters as well, which caught me off guard. Truly the writing is strong and deliberate. A lot of the politics and war crimes occurring in Syria are not detailed, and I have to assume that is because the point of view is a 12 year-old-girl who is blissfully in her own world. I imagine this is also why the target audience is listed as 8-12 year olds, because it simplifies a truly horrific situation. Also because despite moments of raw vulnerability, the book stays pretty optimistic and hopeful. Continue reading.
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on April 6, 2021
Genres: Muslim, Poetry
Reading Level: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Review Source: Islamic School Librarian
Publisher's Synopsis: 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.