A triumphant memoir that offers hope for Somalia’s and, indeed, America’s futures.

Somali-born Iftin presents a narrative of his journey from a war-torn homeland to his current life in Maine.

The story begins with the catastrophic drought and war of the late 1970s that interrupted his young parents’ carefree and wealthy nomadic life in a lush region of south-central Somalia. Neither they nor the country ever managed to recover as one cycle of conflict led to another, raging on until the present day. These waves of violence reduced everyday Somalis’ lives to ones of chronic poverty, displacement, uncertainty, and fear but failed to extinguish hopes or dreams. Iftin, who was probably born in 1985, and his beloved brother schemed moneymaking enterprises together, skipping school to sell snacks to moviegoers. Under the noses of religious authorities, he arranged secret rendezvous with his first crush. Given the circumstances, Iftin’s boyish escapades involved a level of daring that maintains suspense. Later, as a college student in Mogadishu, he recorded reports for NPR’s The Story despite potentially life-threatening repercussions from al-Shabaab. Chief among Iftin’s dreams was to live in America, his impressions of the country fed by Black pop culture and American movies, which did not prepare him for the complex racial realities that he encountered and recognized as a form of tribalism when he eventually made it to the U.S. This remarkable, nuanced story facilitates a deeper understanding of immigration today.

A triumphant memoir that offers hope for Somalia’s and, indeed, America’s futures. (glossary) (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9711-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Small but mighty necessary reading.

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story.

This story, an adaptation for young people of the adult memoir The Other Wes Moore (2008), explores the lives of two young African-American men who share the same name and grew up impoverished on the same inner-city streets but wound up taking completely different paths.

Author Moore grew up with a devoted mother and extended family. After receiving poor grades and falling in with a bad crowd, his family pooled their limited finances to send him to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he found positive role models and became a Corps commander and star athlete. After earning an undergraduate degree, Wes attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. When the author read about the conviction of another Wes Moore for armed robbery and killing a police officer, he wanted to find out how two youths growing up at the same time in the same place could take such divergent paths. The author learns that the other Wes never had the extensive family support, the influential mentors or the lucky breaks he enjoyed. Unfortunately, the other Wes Moore is not introduced until over two-thirds of the way through the narrative. The story of the other Wes is heavily truncated and rushed, as is the author's conclusion, in which he argues earnestly and convincingly that young people can overcome the obstacles in their lives when they make the right choices and accept the support of caring adults.

Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story. (Memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74167-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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