What it’s about: When tensions rise dangerously in Jude’s home city in Syria, she and her mother fly to America, where they move in with her aunt and uncle in Cincinnati. As Jude struggles to adjust to a new culture, language, school—a new life—she learns that America is different than it seems in the movies. Everything is big and loud and shiny, clamoring for attention. She learns that some people expect her to be a certain way before they even meet her, or seem to treat her differently when she starts wearing a headscarf. But in America she also finds friends, allies, hope for her family in Syria and a connection with those in America. She finds a place which, slowly but surely, begins to feel like home.
Why we chose it: Every now and then I’ll randomly stumble across a book, decide to give it a try, and end up completely adoring it. Other Words for Home is definitely one of those. A combination of gorgeous free verse, a multilayered plot, and a protagonist who I completely loved creates a poignant, inspiring story about finding a new home and growing up. The story never gets violent or dark, but still honestly faces the realities of being a young Middle Eastern refugee. I’ve connected with many book characters in different ways over the years, but Jude touched me more deeply than any have in a long time, and I utterly adored her. Her fears for her family and the future make her immensely relatable, but it’s her courage, dreams, and unquenchable spark which truly make her shine.