Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Middle Grade Books, Muslim Shelf Space

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga – Book Review

I had been recommended this book several times so when I saw it was on sale I just had to but it and it did not disappoint!


Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

I am learning how to be
and happy
at the same time.
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.

I absolutely adored this book and read it in one day! It is beautifully written and completely in verse which I thought added to the beauty of this book. It’s a heartfelt story which had me shedding a tear because this is a story that is a reality for so many young people today and not all of them get the same ending as Jude.

It shows the horrors of what it is to be a refugee and the heartbreak of having to leave everything in your life behind including your family and friends in the hope that you will make it safely to another country and be safe when you get there and how you have to start a whole new life in a place where you don’t know anyone and can even be made to feel unwelcome there.

The beginning of the story we see Jude in Syria doing your average everyday things that kids do but also the underlying tension that even the kids feel because where they live is increasingly becoming unsafe for them. Then we see her journey to the US and have to navigate a place where she is unfamiliar with the culture (outside of the films she has seen) and the language barrier she faces.

The story shows how she struggles with adjusting at times and the loneliness she feels but also her determination and perseverance to live the life she dreamed of. Half way through the book she decides to wear a hijab and Jasmine showed how people’s perception of her changed and how people treated her, despite it being a middle grade book the Islamophobia was shown in a raw and realistic way that even young readers can understand.

This is a story that could be about any immigrant and refugee child which is what makes it even more hard hitting when reading about Jude’s life. It’s a much needed story in today’s society and written beautifully. It shows the hardship and difficulties but also the hope and dreams they have just like every other child. It’s such a wonderful story and I loved it.

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