Home of the Brave is my new favorite book. Written in verse, this story of an African refugee is told by Katherine Applegate using simple and beautiful language. I read it in a day. The only thing I didn't like about this book is that it wasn't longer. As I got to the end, I dreaded that last page knowing that I wouldn't read it again until Matt is finished with another book and a half of the series he is in. He also loves Katherine Applegate's work, so it will be a breakfast book soon.
In Africa, Kek lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived, and now she's missing. (from inside the front cover)
Kek lives with his aunt and his cousin who lost a hand in the fighting in Africa. He makes a friend, Hannah, and finds a job on a small farm.
"My aunt holds my face in her hands
and I see that she's crying.
I know her to be a woman of many sorrows,
carved down to a sharp stone
by her luckless life.
She isn't like my mother,
whose laughter is
like bubbling water from a deep spring
I look into her eyes
and then tears come hard and fast,
not for her, not for my cousin,
not even for myself,
but because when I look there,
I see my mother eyes
looking back at me" (21 -22).
This book takes me back to a time when I worked with a student from Africa. He was confused by idioms as Kek is. When learning to speak English, he once asked, "What is this thing - thermostat?" This was a word in a story we were reading. He didn't have a furnace in Africa or a thermostat, but he wanted to learn and know everything right now. He had a drive for knowledge that I didn't see duplicated until another ESL student from Mexico came my way.
This book shows how hard it is for a person to start life anew in a place that is so very different from their home. I love Kek's attitude. I loved how he got his job and how he finds a home for a friend. His answer is to just do it.
"Maybe I should call ahead
and explain things? Lou asks.
Sometimes it's better
just to walk up to the door
and ask, I say" (228).
If you've never tried a story told in verse, this is a great one to start with. You will love the beautiful language of this story and the wise innocence of a young boy who has lost nearly everything in his war torn land.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.