Review | Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo

Nima doesn’t feel understood. By her mother, who grew up far away in a different land. By her suburban town, which makes her feel too much like an outsider to fit in and not enough like an outsider to feel like that she belongs somewhere else. At least she has her childhood friend Haitham, with whom she can let her guard down and be herself.Until she doesn’t.

As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen, the name her parents didn’t give her at birth: Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might just be more real than Nima knows. And more hungry.And the life Nima has, the one she keeps wishing were someone else’s. . .she might have to fight for it with a fierceness she never knew she had.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was instantly intrigued by this title when I saw it was compared to Elizabeth Acevedo and Jason Reynolds so I wanted to give it a read. It’s similar in style as it is a story told in verse and features and American born Sudanese (I believe) girl trying to find her place and also trying to figure out her own identity and being comfortable in it. She faces a number of instances of hate due to how she is perceived and is caught in between being an American and identifying with the country her mother came from. The examination of place and identity was definitely poignant and raw and when we got the magical aspect that was a nice surprise. I really felt that that was when her exploration of self and place really came to a climax and loved how it was handled. It’s a beautiful story that is so valuable right now.

Happy reading!

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