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Other Words for Home (2019)

de Jasmine Warga

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1,0866618,402 (4.44)8
Sent with her mother to the safety of a relative's home in Cincinnati when her Syrian hometown is overshadowed by violence, Jude worries for the family members who were left behind as she adjusts to a new life with unexpected surprises.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 66 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Representation: Asian and Black characters
Trigger warnings: Military violence and war themes, blood and death of people mentioned, disappearance of a brother, racism, pregnancy
Score: Eight points out of ten.
Find this review on The StoryGraph.

Before I read Other Words for Home, I was at a crossroad. On one hand, I had high expectations, considering this book was initially my first one from Jasmine Warga before someone transferred it and then I had to read The Shape of Thunder (which I enjoyed.) On the other, my recent poetry reads were misses, other than a few gems. Fortunately, when I finally finished Other Words for Home, it was delightful, but heavy.

It starts with the first person I see, Jude, living a peaceful life in Syria with her family during the opening pages. Once the country got too volatile and chaotic, Jude had to move to her relatives in Ohio, America, leaving her father and brother behind. Initially, Jude hasn't acclimatised to America yet and is not used to the new labels people call her like Syrian and Middle Eastern. Jude eventually adjusts herself to her new surroundings, living in her new home and going to a new American school to make friends. Interestingly, she has two English classes: English and ESL (English as a Second Language,) where Jude finds new people to befriend. Jude's subsequent chapter in her life is mostly uneventful, save for the school play auditions and the subtle racist attacks she experiences. I liked everything about Other Words for Home: the excellent poetry and the likable and relatable characters. Toward the concluding pages, Jude reunites with her family through a screen, meets her long-lost brother and gets into the performance, finishing the narrative on a high note.

Addendum: Coincidentally, Other Words for Home combines the titles of two other novels I read: The Other Side of Tomorrow and The Horses Didn't Come Home, both of which were satisfying to read. To summarise, Other Words for Home initially looked promising and when I closed the final page, it was a gratifying reading experience. ( )
  Law_Books600 | Feb 26, 2024 |
Summary
Jude and her mother move to America amid the Syrian war. They left behind Jude’s brother and father. Living with their relatives in Cincinnati, Jude has to adapt to her new world. She has to find the balance between her new world in America and keeping true to her Middle Eastern identity she grew up with.

Review
What a beautiful story about a young girl and her new life in America. Through beautifully written verse your heart is filled with the happiness, struggle, and strength of this young woman. I absolutely loved it. I think it could truly be the intermediate Nutmeg winner this year.

It was so easy to relate to her struggle adapting to a new world as a teacher. I observe daily the challenges ESL students face. Although so many students, like Miles, are welcoming and kind, sometimes there are unkind actions or misunderstandings between children and people of other cultures. Just like in this text sometimes their actions and comments are intentional, and other times out of ignorance of the culture or person.

This book reminds me of Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate. It is a text I read aloud each year to my 5th graders as a part of our fictional themes unit. It is also written in verse. Kek is a young boy who also grew up around the Syrian war in which he lost his father and brother. Both stories address the challenges young children face when assimilating into a new country and culture. It addressed the challenges they face with peers, adults, and personal identity. ( )
  Booksonthehammock | Feb 13, 2024 |
See full review & more here!

Sometimes it feels like when I boarded that plane
to fly to America
I left my heart behind,
beating and lonely on the other side of the ocean.


Oh, this is a wonderful book. One thing I kept thinking was "I definitely have to have this in my classroom. Maybe even used as a class read!" That, and that I should recommend it to Clarissa!

A novel in verse is so approachable. You get a little bit of the poetic element in the writing style and format, but still the fairly clear language and imagery. For readers who might struggle a bit, the short lines are a godsend. Yet, you still get SO much out of them, and Other Words for Home is a perfect example of that. The writing is as gorgeous as the cover, but is also hilarious and so descriptive that you'll actually cringe reading lines like:

Today the air is so soupy
that it feels like I am living inside
someone else's mouth.


You really get inside Jude's heart, and the compassion and empathy that can help create is so critical these days. It sort of breaks your heart and puts it back together again. In terms of the plot itself, solidly developed and mingles the darkness and fear with the determination that so many refugees and immigrants feel (I imagine). ( )
  Jenniferforjoy | Jan 29, 2024 |
Astory about war and displacement, resilience and adjustment.

Warga portrays with extraordinary talent the transformation of a family’s life before and after the war began in Syria. Living in a tourist town on the Syrian coastline, Jude experiences the inequalities in her society firsthand. With the unfolding of the Arab Spring, her older brother, Issa, wants to join protests against the Syrian regime. The parents are in favor of staying out of it, but with news of a new baby and nearby towns turning into battlegrounds, Jude and her mother travel to join her uncle, a medical doctor, and his family in the American Midwest. Her free-verse narration cuts straight to the bone: “Back home, / food was / rice / lamb / fish / hummus / pita bread / olives / feta cheese / za’atar with olive oil. / Here, / that food is / Middle Eastern Food. / Baguettes are French food. / Spaghetti is Italian food. / Pizza is both American and Italian, / depending on which restaurant you go to.” Jude, who has always loved American movies, shares her observations—often with humor—as she soaks everything in and learns this new culture. Only when she starts feeling comfortable with having two homes, one in Syria and one in the U.S., does a terrible incident make her confront the difficult realities of being Muslim and Arab in the U.S.

Poetic, immersive, hopeful. (Historical verse fiction. 11-adult)

-Kirkus Review
  CDJLibrary | Oct 5, 2023 |
Astory about war and displacement, resilience and adjustment.

Warga portrays with extraordinary talent the transformation of a family’s life before and after the war began in Syria. Living in a tourist town on the Syrian coastline, Jude experiences the inequalities in her society firsthand. With the unfolding of the Arab Spring, her older brother, Issa, wants to join protests against the Syrian regime. The parents are in favor of staying out of it, but with news of a new baby and nearby towns turning into battlegrounds, Jude and her mother travel to join her uncle, a medical doctor, and his family in the American Midwest. Her free-verse narration cuts straight to the bone: “Back home, / food was / rice / lamb / fish / hummus / pita bread / olives / feta cheese / za’atar with olive oil. / Here, / that food is / Middle Eastern Food. / Baguettes are French food. / Spaghetti is Italian food. / Pizza is both American and Italian, / depending on which restaurant you go to.” Jude, who has always loved American movies, shares her observations—often with humor—as she soaks everything in and learns this new culture. Only when she starts feeling comfortable with having two homes, one in Syria and one in the U.S., does a terrible incident make her confront the difficult realities of being Muslim and Arab in the U.S.

Poetic, immersive, hopeful. (Historical verse fiction. 11-adult)

-Kirkus Review
  CDJLibrary | Oct 5, 2023 |
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» Afegeix-hi altres autors (2 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Jasmine Wargaautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Stempel-Lobell, JennaDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Syed, AnooshaAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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This one's for the Nazeks,
especially my father, who crossed an ocean,
my uncle Abdalla, who loved me from across one,
and my cousin Jude, whose name I borrowed.
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It is almost summer and everywhere smells like fish,
except for right down by the sea
where if you hold your nose just right
you can smell the sprawling jasmine and the salt water
instead.
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Sent with her mother to the safety of a relative's home in Cincinnati when her Syrian hometown is overshadowed by violence, Jude worries for the family members who were left behind as she adjusts to a new life with unexpected surprises.

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