Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (May 28, 2019)
Received an ARC from MPH Distributors
Blurb from Goodreads:
I am learning how to be
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.
Could someone please smack some sense into me? It took me so long to pick up a Jasmine Warga novel? Please, Kevin. What is wrong with you? Well, thanks to all the adorable pandas in the world that I finally read a book by her and it’s none other than her latest one, Other Words for Home which is equally stunning as it is heartwarming and hopeful.
Written in verse, Other Words from Home follows the story of Jude who is Syrian and is forced to leave her father and older brother behind when things become dangerous and volatile at home due to the ongoing civil war in Syria. Crossing the Atlantic ocean, Jude finds herself in Cincinnati, and finds out that living in America is so much different compared to what she had learnt from famous Hollywood movies she and her brother watched back home.
Far from home and her life back in Syria, readers will relate to Jude as she finds her place in a sea of unknowns and deciding whether she should blend into the crowd or have courage and embrace her difference. For me, I found Other Words for Home to be something that shouldn’t be missed as it deals with such important issues such as cultural identity, traditions and beliefs from home, adapting to other cultures, self-discovery and staying true to yourself.
I would even go as far to say that Jude’s heartwarming story is one that is eloquently written and the narrative is emotionally charged, beautiful and inspiring. Though she is treated differently for being an outsider and has to deal with racism in a foreign country, Jude is resilient as she learns that she is worthy of many things. Her learning to stay true to yourself and believe in your own values and merits made me realise how much I loved Other Words for Home and I was utterly moved by her decision to embrace every part of her Syrian heritage and dared to stand out.
Other Words for Home is an incredibly heartwarming journey from start to finish and I was completely enraptured by Jude’s story. Jasmine Warga writes with such tenderness and hearth, Other Words for Home reminded me of what it meant to be human, how the littlest of things could change us and the importance of believing in yourself, even when you’re in the face of adversity.