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by Jasmine Warga

Book list From start to finish, Warga's middle-grade debut puts its hands around your heart and holds it, ever so gently, so that you're aware of your own fragility and resilience just as Jude is while her life changes drastically from one day to the next. Growing up in a coastal town in Syria, Jude's days revolve around her family and best friend, watching movies, and going to school. But there's trouble on the horizon, and Jude's brother, Issa, gets involved in the resistance movement. Jude and her mother leave, moving in with Uncle Mazin and his family in Cincinnati. The novel's blank verse form works beautifully to capture Jude's tumultuous emotions as she adjusts to her new life. Friendships, complicated family relationships, Islamophobia, and a new language are just a few of the layers Warga weaves into Jude's consciousness. Jude is keenly aware of who she is a sister, daughter, cousin, niece, friend even as she works out the nuances of these roles. Her voice is both wise and naive, her responses credible, and her bravery admirable and accessible. After a few emotional crescendos, the story is resolved with satisfying closure and believable new possibilities. This should find its way into every middle-grade reader's hands.--Amina Chaudhri Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly 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. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (May) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus A story about war and displacement, resilience and adjustment.Warga portrays with extraordinary talent the transformation of a family's life before and after the war began in Syria. Living in a tourist town on the Syrian coastline, Jude experiences the inequalities in her society firsthand. With the unfolding of the Arab Spring, her older brother, Issa, wants to join protests against the Syrian regime. The parents are in favor of staying out of it, but with news of a new baby and nearby towns turning into battlegrounds, Jude and her mother travel to join her uncle, a medical doctor, and his family in the American Midwest. Her free-verse narration cuts straight to the bone: "Back home, / food was / rice / lamb / fish / hummus / pita bread / olives / feta cheese / za'atar with olive oil. / Here, / that food is / Middle Eastern Food. / Baguettes are French food. / Spaghetti is Italian food. / Pizza is both American and Italian, / depending on which restaurant you go to." Jude, who has always loved American movies, shares her observationsoften with humoras she soaks everything in and learns this new culture. Only when she starts feeling comfortable with having two homes, one in Syria and one in the U.S., does a terrible incident make her confront the difficult realities of being Muslim and Arab in the U.S.Poetic, immersive, hopeful. (Historical verse fiction. 11-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Twelve-year-old Jude lives in a coastal tourist town in Syria where many people go to get away. While Jude wants to become a movie star, her older brother, Issa, wants more from their future than the oppression overtaking their beloved country. As the tumult crawls closer to Jude's home, Issa yearns to join the revolution in Aleppo, Baba refuses to leave his seaside store, and Mama believes the safest place for Jude, herself, and the baby she is carrying is with Jude's Uncle Mazin and Aunt Michelle in America. Leaving a possible war behind is easy, but leaving Baba, Issa, and everything she knows is hard. Adjusting to life in Cincinnati alongside her less-than-welcoming cousin, Sarah, is almost as difficult, especially with school play tryouts looming and Jude feeling that a girl like her would never get, or even merit, the spotlight. With the help of her fellow immigrant classmates and new Arabic-speaking American friend, Layla, Jude adjusts to her new home and family while never forgetting what she left behind. Told in verse and divided into five sections chronicling Jude's flight from Syria and adjustment to America, this powerful middle grade novel explores the complicated concepts of war and corruption, home, family, belonging, and how, in Jude's own words, "It is strange to feel lucky/for something that is making my heart feel so sad." Verdict Highly recommended for all libraries, this title will easily find a home next to books like Refugee by Alan Gratz and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.-Brittany Drehobl, Morton Grove Public Library, IL Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book When military fighting comes dangerously near their Syrian hometown, Jude and her mother leave their home and family for the U.S. Jude's voice throughout this verse novel is authentic, infused with thoughtfulness, humor, determination, and hope. Her adjustment period upon arrival in America offers a realistic portrait of the strength it takes to move to a new country, as well as of the complicated dynamics between first- and second-generation immigrants. Websites. Glos. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.