Other Words for Home

352p. HarperCollins/Harper. May 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062747808.
RedReviewStarGr 4–8—Twelve-year-old Jude lives in a coastal tourist town in Syria where many people go to get away. While Jude wants to become a movie star, her older brother, Issa, wants more from their future than the oppression overtaking their beloved country. As the tumult crawls closer to Jude's home, Issa yearns to join the revolution in Aleppo, Baba refuses to leave his seaside store, and Mama believes the safest place for Jude, herself, and the baby she is carrying is with Jude's Uncle Mazin and Aunt Michelle in America. Leaving a possible war behind is easy, but leaving Baba, Issa, and everything she knows is hard. Adjusting to life in Cincinnati alongside her less-than-welcoming cousin, Sarah, is almost as difficult, especially with school play tryouts looming and Jude feeling that a girl like her would never get, or even merit, the spotlight. With the help of her fellow immigrant classmates and new Arabic-speaking American friend, Layla, Jude adjusts to her new home and family while never forgetting what she left behind. Told in verse and divided into five sections chronicling Jude's flight from Syria and adjustment to America, this powerful middle grade novel explores the complicated concepts of war and corruption, home, family, belonging, and how, in Jude's own words, "It is strange to feel lucky/for something that is making my heart feel so sad."
VERDICT Highly recommended for all libraries, this title will easily find a home next to books like Refugee by Alan Gratz and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.

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