Title: Other Words for Home
Author: Jasmine Warga
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 2019
I don’t know how I missed Other Words for Home when it was first published. It was a Newbery Honor book. And the cover is absolutely stunning. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I finally got a chance to read this wonderful middle grade story told in verse.
On the surface, Other Words for Home is about Jude’s move from Syria to America with her mother. It beautifully portrays Jude’s love of Syria and her heart break over leaving. I felt every bit of her pain as she’s forced to leave behind her Babba and her older brother who is fighting for change in their war-torn country.
The book also shows Jude’s experience of America; from the noise and speed of everyday things to living with her uncle’s family to attending 7th grade at an America school. She becomes a translator for her mother, who’s pregnant, and does a crash course in both language and culture.
Below the surface, Other Words for Home is about prejudice against Arabs and Arab Americans. Jude experiences this even more acutely when she decides to wear the hijab after she gets her period. Jasmine Warga handles all these issues with grace and transparency.
I don’t want to give away too much. Because I want you to read the book. But I will say this; when Jude tries out for the school play, she not only finds her voice – she discovers that she wants to be seen. And even after I finished reading the last page, I was cheering her on.
The front cover blurb says it all:
“This is a necessary story. We’re lucky to have it in the word.”Jason Reynolds