Book Review: “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga

Hello!

Last year, I was scrolling through Facebook and this meme had popped up from a library, stating mainly to those who are adults, that it is okay to enjoy reading YA (young adult) books. I took this to heart because I have heard of my favorite booktubers feeling uneasy about checking out books in this genre, and to see this slip all throughout my social media has influenced my own journey branching out from other genres that I feel weird reading like children’s literature. I wasn’t a lover of reading (of any kind) when I was little, so now I’m diving deep into classics I had pushed aside in the past.

This book isn’t part of that list, but it is middle grade, which is targeted for students in junior high or middle school, at least that’s what I believe is the meaning behind it. An example of what is considered middle grade are the Harry Potter books. Of course, they take a darker note after ‘The Goblet of Fire’ but for the most part they are always regarded for pre-teens around the ages of 10-15.

WARNING: there are some spoilers below. So, If you are planning on reading the book in the near future, you might want to skip this post!

ac22dcd2adef7d61bc1c64891e1ccd6c

I am learning how to be
sad
and happy
at the same time.


Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

taken from Goodreads.

This was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, and a brilliant read for this month as it is Ramadan in the Muslim communities. As you may know, I love to learn, and a few years ago I was introduced to the holiday event Ramadan and Eid. This was one that I was not familiar with, but I was thrilled to learn what people do to celebrate the month of fasting, praying, and ultimately the renewal of life that comes with it. I’ve learned a lot in the last three years, as I always read at least one book around Ramadan, and this year I chose “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga.

This story of a little girl who spent her early years in Syria, living with her family, going to school, and having the typical childhood, until the start of the violence there breaks every thing she is used to, and it immediately made me remember an old friend of mine, her name was Reem, and she lived in Syria. One of her last tweets was in 2014, and honestly, every time she came on with new updates about her and her outlook on the country as a whole was so heartbreaking for us. I haven’t talked about her much because it hurts to know how close she was to it. I don’t know if she made it out of Syria and I’ve checked her previous accounts on Twitter, but there’s nothing there. I always hope she is somewhere free of the chaos and that’s all I can really do.

For our main character Jude, you are able to see the innocence of this young girl navigating this new world in a way; I liked the way, we as the reader, were able to see the good and bad in Jude’s life. She goes to a school in America with her cousin, who was born here. It was interesting to see the differences between these little girls as they are part of the same blood but has been through different things. For Jude’s cousin Sarah, she wouldn’t be totally comfortable accepting a hijab after starting her period. You get the gist right away that she wasn’t raised like that and isn’t very accepting of Jude to being like that.

and I know I am not back home, but here, in this home.

Despite this, there was one girl that was a great addition to Jude’s life, and her name is Layla. She was born in the United States, but her family is from Lebanon and own a Middle Eastern restaurant that Jude visits to enjoy food and love of her native homeland. Layla is a great insight into what it is like for a child who doesn’t feel like she belongs and feels like she’s punished for it. I believe Sarah and Layla respect two sides of what it’s like being a girl in America. If people don’t understand something, they are afraid of it. I heard this phrase a lot as a teenager, but it really spoke to me while reading about Jude in this book.

A way of getting acclimated to her new school was instantly being in an ESL class. ESL means “English Second Language” and I can remember seeing several students in school growing up, having to be hallways to learn English, because as far as I knew we didn’t have those at the time. Honestly, it wasn’t until high school we were allowed to choose between two languages to learn as an elective, and they were German and Spanish. In Jude’s case, she has three other students in her class, and they were from other parts of the world, and it was sweet to see them learn slang words like “bougie” (which I did not learn about until I was 28!) and phrases such as, “you know?”

There were so many things I truly adored about this book, but I did not enjoy how it ended. I felt like it should have given the reader more of what happens after that final scene, but instead we were left with a cliffhanger ending and it really angered me because I thought it could have continued on a little more, but I’ll get over it.

Have you read “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga yet? If so, what were your thoughts? What was your favorite scene(s) of the whole book?

snowflake

Blogmas: Why I Decided on 8 Days

Hello everyone and welcome back to Blogmas!

I absolutely adore this theme and it’s one I continue to do every year, even if I’m not feeling very festive. I was first introduced to Blogmas back in 2014 when I found the blogging community on Twitter. I still look back on that memory quite a bit and wish we were all doing the fun chats and checking out everybody’s newest posts without any drama going on behind the scenes.

For those of you who do not know what blogmas is, it’s a concept based around Christmas, you create a series of different posts talking about the festive holiday. Some people will do every day leading up until the 25th, or sometimes they will shrink it down and release 8 or 12 days instead. I’ve always done whatever I could get done and it’s been a hit and miss throughout the years, so that was one of the reasons I decided to only publish for eight days for 2021.

Before I go, one thing I try to do is give people, especially new bloggers a collection of previous blogmas posts, I’ve included what I wrote in 2020. So, I really hope you enjoy what I have in store for you in the next couple of weeks on Got Meghan’s Blog!


How Do I Read?

This post is all about how I read my books. Last year, I had the chance to work with an awesome company called Tilisma. They create a variety of bookish products. I saw them while watching one of my favorite YouTubers and she showed her viewers these really cool things; it is in the shape of an eye made out of wood with a nice hole carved out in the middle, this is where your thumb (or in my case big toe!) and it is supposed to allow you to hold any type of book and of course make reading easier!

I was given four different products and the nice people of the company, customized every item to my size! The little one is definitely my favorite because it is just perfect for my toes and it has made reading outside or just in the house a whole lot easier for me! Click here if you want to read the whole post on Tilisma. I definitely recommend anyone checking out their stuff on Amazon and/or their Instagram as they share photos of various people using the holders a lot so you could see what you could use for yourself.

Things That Make Me Feel Christmas-y!

In this one, I basically talk about the things that make me feel very festive, and I share quite a bit of photos of putting up our family Christmas tree and baking and decorating the sugar cookies. 2020 was the year we could finally do things with Nolan. My mom and I decorated cookies the year before but we all agreed that Nolan was just a little too young to be around that many cookies and frosting–this was a very good call considering how many he did eat last year! I think it was three and a half cookies and I don’t remember how many times he licked icing off his fingers…

The 12 Days of Christmas Book Tag

Here’s the thing, I had a sticky note with array of blogmas topics saved on my laptop, and when I was getting ready to figure out my schedule for this year, I guess I forgot to strike both “Things That Make Me Feel Christmas-y” and this tag. I’m not going to lie; I am pretty proud of myself for looking back just in case or else I would repeat these posts again and I would be really upset with myself.

This post is a survey discussing two loves of mine: books and Christmas. I always enjoy doing these types of posts at the start of blogmas because it is easy, fun and I’m not stressing myself out too much to make it look so perfect. However, now I’m wondering what I will be doing for Friday…

DIY: Christmas Tree Projects

For the longest time, my nana and I would do a bunch of seasonal crafts and despite the fact we loved our pumpkin related projects, the largest job were Christmas things. The final project we did was making everyone their own goody bag full of cookies, lotions, socks, and chocolate bark. And yes, I did a post about it and you can click here to check it out now.

A lot has happened since then, and she lives up north and I am up to no good coming up with ideas to continue the tradition a little, although I wouldn’t say this one wasn’t for family, this was my personal job to see if I could bring back that spark again. I was fairly proud of myself on the work I did on these but now there is only one still on the back wall of the hallway, there is another hanging up in the playroom and Nolan took home the final canvas!

I am doing something similar to what nana and I did with those brown bags, but that’s all I can say about it at the moment. You might see some things on my Facebook and Instagram pages here and there. Once I finish everything, I will have a post up before the 25th.

2020 Christmas Tree

This post is exactly what the title says, it is all about my black Christmas tree for 2020. I’m not entirely sure if I will discuss what I do with my tree this year, but we’ll just have to see what happens later on in the month!

Ultimate Christmas Playlist

As for the final post of the day, you get to know about my favorite Christmas songs. There are a lot of beloved jazz artists like Frank Sinatra, Stan Kenton, Ray Charles, and Michael Bublé, but there is a bunch of different people and songs that inspire that feeling of the holidays as well like, Home Alone soundtrack, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Frozen soundtracks, Lindsey Stirling, and even Celtic Woman.


Well, that’s it for this post. These are all of the topics I talked about one year ago to hopefully spark the joy of the beautiful season. As I’ve mentioned above, I’ve done this for a pretty long time, so I have a huge selection of Christmas-y posts you can search in the box on the top right corner of the home page.

What is your favorite thing about Christmas?

January Playlist

Hello!

Despite the fact January rarely releases bangers that will echo until the middle of the summer, I have found lots of interesting tunes! The day I don’t find anything that makes me happy, you should worry about me; just as a heads up, okay?

I am always pulled into this nostalgia vibe towards the end of December, and once January comes around, I am fully dedicated to keep it going until the early days of spring. I have never understood why I get like this, and it literally happens like clockwork so it doesn’t matter whatever genre I have been listening to the most, my brain will use it to make me want to go back to certain playlists or iPod, which has been REALLY a lifesaver lately! If you didn’t know, I haven’t updated my iPod in about three to four years, so I want to say the cut off year is possibly 2014. For my brain, this is the most recent but fits that box I need to be in during the colder months that I don’t really have a problem with it.

Here is the top songs for January. If you want to look into the rest of the Spotify playlist, click here.

Save Me From Myself by Vertical Horizon
Vita Nova by Halocene
Someone Like You by Adele
Bitter by Evie Irie
Every Time You Leave by I Prevail featuring Delaney Jane
Another Life by Any Given Sin
Take Me Away by Ayron Jones
Adrenaline by Zero 9:36
All My Life by Attack Attack
Intercorrupted by Ra

Decode by Cole Rolland featuring Lauren Babic
IDOL by Lauren Babic
DONE. by The Band Perry
It’s Not U It’s Me by Bea Miller featuring 6LACK
Ready Set by Vo Williams
Scars [En Espanol] by Papa Roach
Numb by Nick Jonas featuring Angel Haze
Golden by Harry Styles
Therefore I Am by Billie Eilish
The Devil’s Own by Five Finger Death Punch

Before I go, I would love to know what you were listening to this month so here are some of my questions for you. Am I the only one who is basically forced into the memory dumb but weirdly enough, enjoy it just the same? If you are a Spotify user like me, what are your Top 5 playlists that Spotify created for you? If you don’t like Spotify, what other music streaming apps do you use instead? Does anybody out there still use their iPods?

Hope you have enjoyed this post and the questions too. I can’t wait to find out what I become obsessed with in February!