Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga
Don’t let the MG (middle grade) category fool you. Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga is a masterpiece. It’s a story about a Syrian girl who comes to America with her mother told in verse.
Now, if you haven’t read a book in verse, it’s kinda like a lyrical way of telling a story. Sometimes it rhymes, sometimes it blows you away like slam poetry. Like a snap-your-fingers-and-shake-your-head-like damn that was good.
I’m a pretty fast reader. But when I read a book in verse, I’m slowed down by the author in a hypnotizing way. Jasmine Warga not only slowed me down she also made me feel like Jude.
Look, I know what you’re thinking and yes, it’s a coincidence that the main character is named Jude like my dog but the book called my name before I knew the main character’s name.
Other Words For Home: Just A Girl
When we meet Jude, she is happy in her home. The world around her may be changing, but Jude and her friend Fatima still love watching movies and talking about being actresses.
Jude’s older siblings want to rise and make a change while Jude’s mother tells her they’re going to America to visit her brother. It isn’t until Jude comes to America that she realizes she is different.
Warga uses Jude’s notable cultural shock experiences to paint a picture of what it’s like to feel different in America. The first example she uses is in food. Using Jude’s staples as a category label in America, Warga shows us how America thinks.
At school, Jude meets Layla, a girl like her who is first-generation. Since her family is from the Middle East as well, Jude feels at home when she is around her. Though they have different journeys, they are able to find common threads within their friendship.
Other Words For Home: Finding Home
Throughout the novel, Jude finds herself calling America home a little easier. She decides to try out for her school play, she plays with her cousin’s American friends, she finds her words in English with a little more confidence.
When violence continues in Syria, word travels back to the States and makes Jude a target. There are things immigrant kids face that no one will ever feel. As a first-generation kid, I saw myself through Laya wishing I was Jude. The fact that I was able to feel how Jude felt, shows how amazing Warga’s writing is throughout the novel. I can’t wait to read what she writes next.
You will belong here.
You will belong wherever you want.
You will make anywhere beautiful.Jasmine Warga, Other Words For Home