cover image Other Words for Home

Other Words for Home

Jasmine Warga. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-274780-8

Written in first-person free verse, this timely book traces the internal journey of a young Syrian refugee adjusting to a new home and culture in the U.S. When violence erupts near their seaside city, Jude and her pregnant mother flee to Cincinnati to stay with Jude’s uncle and his family while her shopkeeper father and activist brother (“He is always talking about change”) stay behind. In the U.S., Jude is warmly welcomed by her aunt and uncle but treated with cool indifference by her cousin, who abandons her at school, leaving Jude to navigate seventh grade in a new environment on her own. Jude struggles to fit in among students who “don’t look like me,” but she remembers her brother’s parting words—“Be brave”—and finds comfort with her new friend Layla, whose parents are from Lebanon. Rhythmic lines distill Jude’s deepest emotions—homesickness, fear when her brother enters a war zone, shock over prejudice in the U.S., and a sense of victory when she receives a speaking role in the school play. Warga (My Heart and Other Black Holes) effectively shows, as she writes in an author’s note, that “children who are fleeing from a war zone... want the same things all of us do—love, understanding, safety, a chance at happiness.” Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (May) [/em]