Middle Grade Review: Other Words for Home

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Genres: Middle Grade, Novel in Verse
Maturity Level: 2
Content Warning: Islamophobia
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

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.

This will be a short review. I don’t fully “get” free-verse poetry, so I’m not quite sure what all to say, but this book felt just amazing.

What do I mean by that? Just that the book gave me all the feels. Jude is an incredibly relatable young woman, and so sensitive and in-tune with her emotions. While I didn’t understand the cadence of the poems, they allowed emotions to flow off the page and become as real for the reader as they are for Jude. Everything from sisterly-love, the difficulty of learning a new language, making a friend, homesickness, there is just so much happening here, and it is all beautiful.

I strongly recommend this book. For everyone. It’s written for a middle-grade audience, but teens will find plenty to think about and digest, and it will challenge adult readers as well. Simply outstanding.

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