Posted by: jeannineatkins | October 11, 2007

What I’m Reading: Home of the Brave

I loved this verse novel, much as loved Susan Taylor Brown’s susanwrites Hugging the Rock: there’s the same gorgeous spare language and flow with its inevitability and surprises. Home of the Brave has even the same sense of something direly important being missing, though the characters and setting are most different. This book is about Kek, an African refugee, and begins when he first sees what will be his new home in cold, snowy Minnesota. There’s less emphasis (just a few poignant flashbacks) on what brought him to the U.S., and more on how he sees a new world with a new language. He’s learned some English in a transitional camp, but much of the novel’s beauty comes from his particular phrasing – from the first line when he cites a “flying boat,” and then, just in the first three-page chapter, we hear the cold as “claws on his skin,” a jacket as “a fat shirt,” gloves as “soft things like hands,” and laughter that makes little clouds – he is making the world new for us as it’s made new for him. Meeting a cow, which reminds him of his work back home, gives him new hope, as well as his great English as a Second Language (the class with the long name) teachers, and a friendship with the brave and tender Hannah, a foster girl whose difficulties echo some of Kek’s. I was all set to nominate Stephanie Hemphill’s Your Own, Sylvia for the poetry Cybil Awards, but now I don’t know.



  1. Oh, I really, really want to read this book. It sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes, I think you’ll love it. I can’t wait to reread it!

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