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!

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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

A-Z Disability Challenge | F : Treat Your Friends In The Way You’d Want To Be Treated

I know I’ve said this for almost every post, but for today it is really important. The topic I will be discussing is how you should treat your disabled friends. I wish this was common sense, but I guess for some people, they lack knowing how to act while hanging out with a person with any kind of disability in both private and publicly!

I am purely basing this off of my own experiences I had while I was in school, because this was the time that I saw anybody outside of my family really making the conscious decision to really hang out with me outside of having a sleep over and of course, seeing each other in classes. This was also the point in my life that I realized that I was truly different than my “friends” because whenever I was around them, I made myself forget that I was disabled. I wanted to be like them so badly that I never felt accepted to be myself, so I wanted to write this post for both sides.


I loved birthday parties! I enjoyed getting out of the house and spending time with my friends outside of school. Although, from the ages 7 to about 10, there wasn’t anything too major that we all did together. I never played spin the bottle or seven minutes in heaven like most preteens did. Now whenever I had birthday parties and sleepovers, I was in a more controlled environment and everybody was basically forced to do what I wanted to do. After my 7th birthday and having over 20+ kids, that included a bunch of rowdy boys, came over to our house, I never had boys over ever. So, I never really had the chance to play spin the bottle like I really wanted to!

I think my favorite parties were over at Haley and Zack’s houses. I’ve been friends with both of them for YEARS! I met Haley in kindergarten, she was my first true friend and Zack’s grandparents lived really close to mine, so we’d see each other almost every other weekend. Anyways, I loved going to their parties. Whenever I would go over to Haley’s, we would be indoors, but when I was attending Zack’s, we were mostly outdoors, sitting by the bonfire, or at least I was. Both made sure to include me as best as they could, but there were a lot of things that they were doing that I knew I couldn’t do, so I felt conflicted a lot of the times, but whenever I’d get in that little funk, I’d end up talking to their families. I love both of their mothers, and whenever I see them, we’ll talk and hug each other!

Once we all got into high school, it was almost like, everybody was too uncool to have sleepovers. I had the hardest time finding people that wanted or had the time to sleep over at my house. I rarely slept at anybody’s house other than my friend Haley and with my cousin Kristi. There was a reason for this though, after I had my back surgeries I grew a lot both in height and weight,  in a short period of time, and it wasn’t until probably 2008 that I began to feel okay with somebody touching my back again. I was still pretty fragile by the time I hit middle school to the end of junior year of high school. This is why I only hung out at two people’s houses, because only two adults were really comfortable and basically took up the challenge to lift me up stairs, beds, couches, etc.

It wasn’t until the end of high school, were things really started to change. There is nothing like a broken heart, especially when it’s caused by your friends. Boys will come and go, but I think I cried more about not being to hang out with my friends. It was never like I wasn’t allowed to go out because my parents said so, it was the fact that nobody would do it. It wasn’t until my 18th birthday that I actually had a friend of mine, take me out. One person.

So, imagine the disappointment when I was told that I was going to get picked up to go out to eat with some friends and I never got a call or a text that said “they were right outside.” In that moment, I truly hated the body I was born in, because I thought if I wasn’t like this, I could be driving my own car, picking them up, and we’d be happy as clowns. Instead, I sat in my room permanently attached to my mom’s shoulder as the minutes trickled by and I received no messages.

It wasn’t until my mom basically said this is not right and packed us up, she texted my cousin Kristi to see if she wanted to go putt-putting that afternoon. While we were at a stop light, I got a text message from the same person I was supposed to be waiting on, asking if I was there already because they’d seen my mom’s car–still didn’t get the message that they were going to pick me up like they said–so I quickly realized that the whole thing was a big joke and that I got excited for no absolutely fucking reason! I know it’s been over 8 years, but I still feel somewhat hurt about this! Friends should never make you feel like that, ever! I can never literally look forward to anything because of this one outing that never happened. It’s okay though, my mom, sister, Kristi and I had fun at miniature golf anyways!

I do worry about these younger generation of disabled kids and teens, because I know how I was and how I dealt with my pain of never feeling like you are enough for roughly anybody. It wasn’t healthy and I know that now. It wasn’t until 2012, two years after I graduated from high school, that I truly began to really love myself for who I was. I started treating myself better! Unfortunately, I’m still not good at keeping up with my friendships, and it’s probably stemmed from this past experiences and other stuff. That’s why it’s highly important to always remember to treat your friends, whether they are able or disabled, like you would want to be treated.

The End.

Do you have any advice for the younger generations on how to treat other people? Were you ever put in the same situations? How did you make it out? Let me know!

6 Halloween Movies For Kids!

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Howdy!

Since I’m not able to decorate pumpkins this year, I had to come up with another Halloween-y post for you guys and I thought collecting a bunch of movies that you either have seen at different parts of your life or not at all. For this list, I decided to talk about what is kid-friendly, it might be movies you remember watching with your parents or at a sleepover with your cousins or friends growing up. I tried to board out my search of different movies and I really like the lineup I have so far, and I hope you enjoy them as well!

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The first time I ever watched this movie was in seventh grade, weirdly enough three days before we went on Christmas break. There are not very many movies that can pass being two holiday movie lists, but this is one! Unfortunately, I didn’t want to watch it and was very happy to be sitting in the back of the room. It wasn’t until about three years later that I finally watched it on my own and I actually kind of enjoyed it.

I think this is a good, fun movie for young kids to watch because they will love the characters, but be careful they do show the Bogeyman and other monsters in the closet and under the bed, so there’s that part to watch out for the younger kids!

Halloweentown (1998)

I love Halloweentown! However, like TNBC I did not want to watch this when it aired on the Disney Channel one October night at a friend’s house. I wasn’t the bravest of kids in my age as you can see, but my sister and her friend stayed up and watched it. You’re never going to believe this, but I actually fell asleep before it even started, so at one point of time, I could fall asleep on cue apparently!

So what changed? I think I was always haunted by the fact that I couldn’t watch it back then that once I got into high school I was like, “you have to suck it up” and it’s been one of my favorite Disney Channel franchises, and my favorite one being Halloweentown High. The last one isn’t really the best because they replace Kimberly J. Brown to Sara Paxton. Nonetheless, the films are good and they’re not really dark, some of the costumes are a little “scary” for some young kids, but other than that it’s a Disney so your child should (grow to) like it very much.

Alvin and The Chipmunks: Meet The Wolfman (2000)

When I decided that I wanted to write this post, this was actually the first movie that popped into my head. I remember watching this as a kid with my sister, who would have been in preschool at the time. We rarely watched Alvin and The Chipmunks and honestly I haven’t seen any of the sequals of the newer films, so the fact that this made the cut is interesting for me. I try to watch it whenever it’s on, even if I miss the majority of it!

If you’re looking for a cartoon-ish, Halloween movie for your children to watch, I’d definitely recommend this because this is generally adorable then spooky. If you didn’t love the Chipmunks, especially Theodore, you will after watching this film.

Mom’s Got A Date With A Vampire (2000)

This is another favorite of mine, that unlike the first two movies I talked about, this was easier to get into and maybe it was because Charles Shaughnessy was in it! You have to understand that when this came on, I was busy watching Full House, Mad About You, Family Matters, and The Nanny with my mother almost every other day with a bowl of potato chips for an afternoon snack when we came home from school! I don’t remember watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch so this is how I fell in love with Caroline Rhea for the first time.

You can find this on Disney Channel too! It likes to creep up on me sometimes, because there will be times where it’s easy to find but then they don’t play it at all and that part really sucks! It is a nice Halloween movie for kids, Charles is somewhat spooky but it’s mostly because of his accent and hair!

Twitches (2005)

I literally almost forgot about this one! It does help if you make sure you have the right amount of movies that it says on your banner before saying you’re done for the day! Anyways, Twitches is such a good movie, I’d say it’s a safe movie that discusses witches in general, but what I really enjoyed about it was seeing real twins Tia and Tamara Mowry play separated after birth sisters that are indeed witches. However, the real part I loved about it were Karsh and Ilena, they are absolutely hilarious and really bring the comic relief to this movie.

This movie has some dark tones in it, but I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal for someone over the age of seven, but that’s only my opinion! I think kids will enjoy the fantasy and magic being shown between the characters, and will hopefully see through the character Thantos’s scary demeanor.

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Are you surprised to see a recent release on my list? I actually had a hard time finding movies that I had seen that would work for this, and HT was the only one that fit the bill. I actually enjoyed this film, unfortunately I have yet to watch the other two and I do want to see them, because I really like the cast who are voicing these characters: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, and David Spade just to name a few.

This film is really nice, it’s not too scary for kids, it could actually help children understand to never to assume the worst out of people. I actually like this direction of the story of Count Dracula, they made the character slightly approachable whereas how they will probably learn of the real story of him, so right now this is family friendly enough right now!

So now we’re finished with the first list! I had lots of fun telling kind of embarrassing stories of my childhood on my blog again.. Oh, just wait until we get to the adult post, you’ll probably be laughing at me while reading it. I originally had seven on this, but I realized that I had two movies that I haven’t really seen a whole lot, so I figured it would be easier to talk about ones that I have watched and liked throughout the years instead. Before I go, I wanted to list a couple of TV shows for kids that have a sort of a spooky flare: Goosebumps, Are You Afraid Of The Dark? and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.

What are your thoughts of the movies above? Which one is your favorite?

snowflake

 

Movies I Want To See In 2018! | July-December

2

Hello!

Well, I’m back for round two! If you have yet to read the first post, you can click here. I have got to find a better way to do this because between the fact that I am not exactly picky whenever I go through the list of movies or I chose to put every single trailer into this post, can be very stressful at times! However, with that being said, I still enjoy writing the posts every six months. It’s fun, but stressful too!

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez (July 13)

I was kind of conflicted whether or not I wanted to include this, because sadly I have yet to watch the second movie. I still want to see this, it looks like it’s going to be really funny from the trailer.

Shock and Awe – Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, James Marsden (July 13)

I’m still a bit confused about this one. It looks likes it’s full of politics and I’m a little unsure about that part, plus the fact that it reminds me of the movie The Post with Tom Hanks and Glenn Close, as it deals with journalism too. So we’ll see what happens!

Christopher Robin – Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings (Aug 3)

Everybody is excited for the live animated of Dumbo and The Lion King, but I am so pumped for this instead! I grew up on Winnie the Pooh and I hope to get my little nephew on the Pooh train too! I kind of like this outlook though, it still has that familiar adventure element but makes it appear fun to both kids and adults too.

The Darkest Minds – Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Patrick Gibson (Aug 3)

I don’t know why I exactly put this on here. I did watch the trailer and liked it, but a part of me is still unsure about it though. It does look cool and action worthy!

Mile 22 – Mark Wahlberg, John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan (Aug 3)

Speaking of action, from the moment this trailer started, I’m not going to lie, I was a little hooked! This just looks great, even if Mark Wahlberg is in it. I like him, but not as much as everybody else does.

Crazy Rich Asians – Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan (Aug 15)

This looks absolutely hilarious! I am happy to see a movie that is about Asians, and it doesn’t have any martial arts in it. They’re not stereotyping Asians in that area, instead this looks exciting in a different way. Apparently this is based off of a book with the same name, so I may check that out beforehand.

The Wife – Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater (Aug 17)

I saw this trailer a couple months ago, and I was really curious about it, even though it seems to deal with some feminist themes. I am really excited about it, even though everytime I see Jonathan Pryce in a movie or TV show, I can’t stop picturing him on Game of Thrones. Ugh!

Peppermint – Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, Juan Pablo Raba (Sept 7)

I am iffy about this one. I will say, I am happy as clowns to see Jennifer Garner back in this bad ass type of role, but it just seems too much like Law Abiding Citizen for me. Now knowing that comparison, it probably won’t keep me away from it! Oh, if you’d like to know what the song is in the background, it’s “Exhumed” by Zola Jesus!

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms – Kiera Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Helen Mirren (Nov 2)

I saw this trailer back in May I think? I kind of wish they’d release it closer to Christmas since that’s when people like to see The Nutcracker in general, but I am very interested in this though. This seems so cool! It’s also nice to see Mackenzie Foy on screen again!

Nobody’s Fool – Tiffany Haddish, Tika Sumpter, Whoopi Goldberg (Nov 2)

I literally saw this trailer probably three days ago, and I was laughing through the whole thing! I think Tiffany Haddish is freaking hilarious, a little dirty but I just love her! This just looks like a fun movie to watch on a casual night in.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Johnny Depp, Jude Law (Nov 16)

Yes, this has to be on my list. I’m really hoping that HBO will get the rights to it so they can just have a full on J.K. Rowling weekend. I have all 8 Harry Potter movies and the first Fantastic Beasts on my DVR! I just need this now! Thank god I’m patient.

Bumblebee – Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Dec 21)

I’m in the middle of The Last Knight right now, so I’m kind of hoping the reason why we’re getting this movie is because Optimus Prime killed Bumblebee. I’ve heard that’s a possibly, so in case it is, please don’t spoil it for me. I am still excited to see Bumblebee get his own movie though!

Mary Poppins Returns – Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw (Dec 25)

This is another one that has me very excited! I know a LOT of people are not looking forward to this reboot, but I am! I love Emily Blunt so I’m kind of curious on what she’ll bring to the table because let’s face it, nobody can touch Julie Andrews but since a lot of people have never heard Emily sing out loud, I think they’ll be in for a big surprise.

What are you mostly looking forward to coming out in these last several months?

snowflake

Chevy’s 4th Birthday!

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Hey guys!

Our neighbor Sammy, her daughter Chevy recently celebrated her fourth birthday! It’s still pretty weird that she’s at that age because I can still imagine her trying to figure out my wheelchair sitting up in the playpen in my backyard one summer afternoon. There’s something about babies and kids in general whenever they see feet driving around my chair just freaks them out in the best way! Now she’s going to preschool and learning about letters and numbers. She’s starting to become a little being and not this baby anymore!

They decided this year to have the party at the park so the kids could have fun at the playground. The theme was Frozen related, all about the summer loving snowman Olaf. They even had an Olaf cake and pinata! It was all very cute! The kids sat at one table while the grown ups sat at another table. When we first got there, they decided to do the cake and I handed my camera over to Sammy to help me out a little because I was still too short in my electric wheelchair. While we sang Chevy happy birthday, she practically disappeared because she didn’t like all of the attention. It took her a bit to be comfortable to blow out the candles. Once I got my camera back, I moved myself away from the sun as it was beaming on my back and neck. All of the adults had the right idea, they all sat in the shade. I realized when I got over there that now would be a good time to take some photos of the landscape.

When I was junior, I was invited into NHS (National Honor Society) and one of our first projects of the year was fixing the playground out in the park. I wasn’t able to help out, but I always remembered it because it was the first thing our group did for our community. I don’t know if they have replaced any of the equipment that the kids were playing on as we watched from our table, but it’s what came to my mind was that memory.

After the kids ate their cake, Sammy moved on to opening presents. Chevy got a lot of neat things, like tutus, puzzles, bouncy ball. We got her a chalk set that were HUGE! I would never be able to grip one in my toes because they were so big! Right after that, they did the pinata, but they kind of forgot the bat so the kids had to pull on the strings at the bottom of Olaf’s butt! I think it was the fifth kid that ended up breaking it, which actually surprised me. I figured Chevy would end up picking the right one! What got all of us though was as the kids were crouching down to grab the candy, my dad walks up and takes two Laffy Taffys! And my mom took a piece of gum! I waited until the kids were gone from that area to ask for a sucker!

When everybody had a good handful of different candies, I got to move from the shelter house and go towards the swings and trees. I wasn’t that hot because of how much I was in the shade, of course the back of my neck, face and legs were red as can be so both of my parents freaked out a bit, but I didn’t care. I was too busy talking to Sammy and some of the older kids that everything just kind of faded! I really enjoyed being out there and I wasn’t too bothered by the bugs either!

When was the last time you went to the park? 

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snowflake

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