Jude loves where she lives – by the coast with her mother, father and older brother Issa. The only thing she doesn’t love is the smell of fish some days! She loves looking at the fancy hotels that the tourists come and stay at and dreams of someday staying in one herself, once she’s a famous actress. And she has lots of examples, since she and her best friend Fatima watch American movies on tape whenever they can, and imitate the actors and actresses endlessly! Even Issa used to get involved and sing along with them, but lately, all he can talk about is change. Change in their country’s political system and how he wants to help make it happen. Jude just wants to hang out at their dad’s little store and watch him sell candy, papers and other little items for prices way cheaper than at the big hotels.
However, Issa’s wish might be happening. After all, Jude is amazed when she sees her country’s name, Syria, in the newspapers making headlines. Aleppo, a large city in Syria, is burning from all the fighting happening, and while that isn’t Jude’s reality where she lives, she knows that from all the whispers around town, that tourists won’t be coming much this year to their seaside retreats. The country is falling into chaos, and Issa seems to be part of it. Jude’s parents get more and more concerned about what the future might hold, and Jude is unprepared for the big change they decide for her.
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga shows the struggle that many immigrants must go through – in feeling a loyalty to their former homes, a longing for the reasons why they left to disappear so they could return, and yet feeling hopeful in their new adopted country. Jude has to deal with all these new things while just trying to be a teenager.
Recommended for grades 6th and up.