Book Review: Other Words for Home

Other Words for Home

“I cover my head not because I am ashamed, forced, or hiding. But because I am proud and want to seen as I am.”

This book is a great example of why I love YA lit as well as novels written in verse!

SUMMARY: 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. 

Other Words for Home is a story told in six parts, as we see the character move through the spectrum of Changing, Arriving, Staying, Hoping, Growing, and Living. Jude is a 7th grader who has recently immigrated from Syria to America with her mother, and it’s both heartbreaking and eye-opening seeing the world from her perspective. Seeing how she feels about the father and brother she’s left behind, how she feels about her American family she is meeting for the first time, and how she feels about struggling to find her identity as a young women but also as a Muslim living in America. Jude’s story made me feel the full range of emotions – from joy to hurt to anger to peace – and I loved every page of it. 

The writing is easy to read and imagine what’s happening, but in its simplicity hides deep complexity and significant insight. Many of Jude’s brief observations about people and the world around her gave me pause as I considered the powerful truths contained therein. These nuggets of wisdom are scattered throughout a story that is compelling and engaging. I also appreciate that the author blends in a mix of Arabic words, phrases, and proverbs, and I also appreciate the glossary at the back of the book to help me understand said words.

Though it’s ostensibly geared towards a younger audience, Other Words for Home is absolutely a book worth diving into for readers of all ages! 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Jasmine Warga is the author of the New York Times bestseller Other Words For Home. Other Words For Home earned multiple awards, including a John Newbery Honor, a Walter Honor for Young Readers, and a Charlotte Huck Honor. She is also the author of young adult books, My Heart and Other Black Holes and Here We Are Now, which have been translated into over twenty different languages. The Shape of Thunder, her next novel for middle grade readers, will be published in May 2021. Originally from Cincinnati, she now lives in the Chicago-area with her family.

If you want to learn more about Jasmine Warga and her work then check out her website (http://jasminewarga.com) and follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/jasminewarga) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/jasminewargabooks/).

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