Review: Home Is Not a Country

Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lauded poet Safia Elhillo has written a short novel in verse in which she contemplates identity, family, the disorienting sense of translocation that occurs when one is too foreign for suburban American and too American for one's country of origin. Nima is a teenager whose mother left an unnamed Arabic country with her after the death of Nima's father. But violence surrounds them in America after a boy in their community, Haitham is beaten by racist thugs. Nima contemplates what all this means, and envisions the girl she might have been, Yasmeen, which was the name discarded by her parents after she was born. Would Yasmeen's father still live? Would Yasmeen speak fluent Arabic and be at home with her father's family and all her cousins back home? In a dialogue with this imaginary other self (or is she a djinn?) Nima interrogates her world that is and that might have been, and eventually comes to a place of peace in which she understands her mother, her family, and her place in her world.

This is a moving book that would be an excellent selection for summer reading lists.

The audiobook is beautifully read by the author, who helps the reader feel the beautiful cadence of her verse.

You can read an interview with Safia Elhillo here.

I received a digital review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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