Sonderbooks Book Review of

Other Words for Home

by Jasmine Warga

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Other Words for Home

by Jasmine Warga

Review posted February 16, 2020
Balzer + Bray, 2019. 342 pages.
Review written January 13, 2020, from a library book
2020 John Newbery Honor

Other Words for Home is the story of Jude, who lives in a tourist town on the coast of Syria, but leaves with her mother to go to America for the sake of safety.

Jude’s father and older brother stay in Syria, and her brother is active in the resistance, so Jude worries about him especially. She doesn’t want to go and leave her friends and home behind, but her family insists that it’s for her safety.

Jude and her mother stay with her Uncle Mazin and his family. Jude’s cousin Sarah is in seventh grade, just like Jude, but at school Sarah doesn’t have anything to do with Jude. Sarah doesn’t want to look like an outsider. Jude does make friends and learn about strange American customs in her ESL class.

When Jude tries out for the school musical, everyone thinks she’s crazy. How can someone get a part who isn’t even an American?

This novel is written in verse, so it reads very quickly. There are more issues than I’ve mentioned here, but it still tends to be a sweet and simple novel about an immigrant trying to fit in. Jude especially enjoys surprising Americans, who really don’t know that much about her home.