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OTHER WORDS FOR HOME
EXPOSITION / CONFLICT
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga is a free verse novel telling the story of 12-year-old Jude who lives with her family on a coastal town in Syria. The increasingly violent Syrian Civil War forces her parents to make the difficult decision for Jude and her pregnant mother to flee to the United States to live with their uncle's family.
CLIMAX / TURNING POINT
Jude loves living by the sea in Syria. Her pretty coastal town is a popular tourist destination. She and her best friend Fatima act out songs and scenes from their favorite American movies and Jude dreams of becoming an actor. The family is happy to learn that their mother is pregnant! However, everything changes when the Syrian Civil War brings violence and unrest. Jude's brother Issa is on the side of the rebels who dream of a democracy instead of Assad’s repressive regime.
Jude and her mother flee to the U.S. Her father stays behind to maintain the store and Issa stays to help in the war. Jude and her mother go to live in a historic section of Cincinnati called Clifton with their Uncle Mazin, his American wife Michelle, and their daughter Sarah. Jude has to navigate a new home, school, and culture while learning English. She makes friends in her ESL class where Mrs. Ravenswood helps everyone feel welcome. Jude also finds true friendships with Miles and Layla.
Jude begins proudly wearing her hijab after her first period. She is so happy but not everyone understands this meaningful rite of passage. Jude excitedly tries out for the school play and despite warnings from some that she won't succeed, she nails the audition and is cast in a role. Unfortunately, anti-Muslim hate is prevalent and Layla's family's restaurant is vandalized in a hate crime and Jude is terrified when she is accosted by a stranger while walking home.
Despite the challenges of adjusting to her new life and missing family and friends, Jude perseveres and is delighted when she finally hears from Fatima. The community rallies together to raise money to help fix Layla's restaurant. Sarah feels a connection to her Syrian heritage for the first time and begins opening up. Jude's baby sister is born and the family rejoices, showing their father and Issa their new baby over the internet, seeing Issa for the first time in months.
Jude joyfully shares pictures of baby Amal with her friends in Mrs. Ravenswood's ESL class. She also confides her great relief of seeing Issa alive and well to Miles. The story ends as Jude and Sarah are both getting ready to go on stage for the performance of the school play. Jude has been through so much this year and is ready to proudly step on stage and share her strength, courage, and light with others.