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HOME IS NOT A COUNTRY

Movingly unravels themes of belonging, Islamophobia, and the interlocking oppressions thrust upon immigrant women.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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What happens when both the place you come from and the place you are feel distant and unaccepting?

These are the questions Nima sets out to answer. A 14-year-old, working-class, Muslim, immigrant kid raised by a single mother in suburban America—that’s Nima. They left their unnamed homeland (contextual clues point to Sudan) in pursuit of a better life, one that didn’t seem to find them. But Nima’s mind often wanders back to her roots, to the Arabic songs she listens to on cassette and old photographs of her parents—things she longs to be a part of. At school, Nima is bullied for her accented English, her obvious poverty, and her mother’s hijab. Haitham, the neighbor boy who’s more like a sibling, goes to the same school and is Nima’s only friend. But one day Haitham is beaten up in a hate crime, winding up in the hospital hooked up to machines. The abyss between Nima and her mother begins to grow as Nima learns more about her father’s absence. Elhillo’s novel, which contains light fantastical elements, tells the story of a Muslim girl traversing post–9/11 America with the baggage of a past she does not yet fully understand. The vivid imagery creates a profound sensory experience, evoking intense emotions in a story that will resonate with readers from many backgrounds.

Movingly unravels themes of belonging, Islamophobia, and the interlocking oppressions thrust upon immigrant women. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17705-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Make Me a World

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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INDIVISIBLE

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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