Drita, My Homegirl

Jenny Lombard, Author . Putnam $15.99 (135p) ISBN 978-0-399-24380-6

Lombard's debut novel unfolds through the first-person narratives of two fourth-grade classmates with very different backgrounds. Drita has just arrived in New York City from a devastated Kosovo and is worried about her depressed mother, who spends days alone in her room. She misses her best friend from home and longs to make a new friend. But Drita knows little English, and the girls at school make no effort to get to know her—including outspoken, impulsive Maxie, an African-American whose brassy demeanor cloaks a deep sadness. Maxie keeps secret the fact that her mother died three years earlier in a car accident, a loss from which she is still reeling. In a poignant encounter, Maxie's wise grandmother, acknowledging that her granddaughter's acting-out is related to her grief, advises the girl, "You got to start to let her go" and to "Let someone in." Maxie reaches out to Drita, and the two grow closer as Maxie researches Kosovo for her school project. Maxie's slang-riddled voice comes across credibly, yet passages representing Drita's thoughts sometimes seem stiff or awkward (e.g., "When Ramazan [a holy time for Albanians] is over, this is the best time for me because I always get too many presents"; "Her breath is hard like someone who is running too much"). Yet the pair's discovery of their common ground makes for a warm, often moving story. Readers will learn as much about Kosovo as about the remedy to be found in friendship. Ages 8-up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Paperback - 135 pages - 978-0-14-240905-3
Prebound-Glued - 135 pages - 978-0-7569-8919-4
Open Ebook - 144 pages - 978-1-4362-2683-7
Prebound-Glued - 135 pages - 978-1-4178-1928-7
Open Ebook - 144 pages - 978-1-101-20054-4
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