New York Times bestseller and Newbery Honor Book!
A gorgeously written, hopeful middle grade novel in verse about a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the United States, perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Aisha Saeed.
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 lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home and, most importantly, finding yourself.
Written in first-person free verse, this timely book traces the internal journey of a young Syrian refugee adjusting to a new home and culture in the U.S. When violence erupts near their seaside city, Jude and her pregnant mother flee to Cincinnati to stay with Jude's uncle and his family while her shopkeeper father and activist brother ("He is always talking about change") stay behind. In the U.S., Jude is warmly welcomed by her aunt and uncle but treated with cool indifference by her cousin, who abandons her at school, leaving Jude to navigate seventh grade in a new environment on her own. Jude struggles to fit in among students who "don't look like me," but she remembers her brother's parting words "Be brave" and finds comfort with her new friend Layla, whose parents are from Lebanon. Rhythmic lines distill Jude's deepest emotions homesickness, fear when her brother enters a war zone, shock over prejudice in the U.S., and a sense of victory when she receives a speaking role in the school play. Warga (My Heart and Other Black Holes) effectively shows, as she writes in an author's note, that "children who are fleeing from a war zone... want the same things all of us do love, understanding, safety, a chance at happiness." Ages 8 12.
Such an important book.
Such a lovely and important book. It was so wonderful to read. I felt like the ending was a bit abrupt and nothing was really “over.” That May be that I’m not the intended age group for this book, but we read it for a book club. I think we need more books like this, not just for our children but for adults as well. We need these windows into other experiences, in other places, to end the fear and bigotry that exists in the world.