4.5 stars. This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.
As a 21-century American kid, I am incredibly spoiled.
And I know that. I recognize it, and sometimes feel bad about it. I live in a wealthy country, in a (relatively) wealthy family, in a lifestyle that caters to my physical and emotional comfort. I get hung up sometimes on things like bad teachers or college decisions, and this book is a well-needed reminder to me that I really have nothing at all worth complaining about. I really am a “poor little rich girl.”
Now that’s off my chest, I suppose I should turn to the book itself. I haven’t read many books told entirely through verse, but the poetic format really works here to get the story across in Kek’s very distinctive voice. It’s clear that he’s really feeling the disconnect between his own lyrical language and the foreign and – to his ears – harsh sound of English. By turning the narration (which by necessity is written in English) into poetry, Applegate captures the rhythm and beauty of Kek’s language. Or at least, I assume she does; I don’t actually know anything about African languages.
I can’t really critique the story itself, because it feels like it’s real. I know that there really are people who are just like the various characters in the novel, and that makes it so much richer; Home of the Brave truly is as much a lesson in empathy as it is an entertaining read. I’m so very glad I did read Home of the Brave, and gained a sense of perspective on both my life and the life of African immigrants, and I look forward to reading it again in the future. I highly recommend you read it as well!