Padian, Maria. Out of Nowhere
12 February 2013, Knopf Books for Young Readers
Tom is the top of the heap in his small Maine town-- excellent soccer player, good student, golden boy with hot girlfriend. He's hoping to get some scholarships so he can afford college. When he and long time stoner friend Donnie get into trouble for painting a rival schools rock, he has to perform 100 hours of community service at a Homework Helper organization. There, he meets Myla, a local college student working there, as well as Samira, the sister of a boy on his soccer team, Saeed. While Myla takes a liking to Tom, Samira wants nothing to do with him. Saeed is an excellent player, but struggles with English, and Tom slowly comes to learn the story of his coming to the United States. When the rival school questions the eligibility of several of the players, including Saeed, Tom becomes even more involved with the Somali community. Tensions run high in the small town, and when Donnie is gravely injured in an accident and Saeed goes missing for a few days, an innocent gesture is taken the wrong way, with devastating consequences for Saeed and Samira's family.
Strengths: This should be required reading in all high schools. It is a beautifully written account of how small towns struggle with waves of immigration, and how some citizens understand that most of us are from immigrant families and rise to the occasion to help others, while other citizens try to close ranks to keep their way of life intact. There are a ton of great scenes-- a discussion of how people in America might find goat meat distasteful, but how Somalis find pig even grosser, Tom's realization that his girlfriend is petty and narrow minded, a great sub plot with a young boy at the center who is struggling to learn the English alphabet. I like how Tom goes from having no real thought about the Somalis to understanding their plight and wanting to help. Even though I knew early on that this wasn't a middle grade book, I couldn't stop reading.
Weaknesses: Frequent f-bombs, drinking and drugs, as well as some mentions of sex make this a bit out of middle school range, which is too bad, because the story of immigrant families assimilating into a community is a good one.
Bonjour, Mr. Satie at The Saffron Tree
Glory Be at Kiss the Book
Goal at There's a Book for That.
The Great Migration at A Wrung Sponge
No God But God, The Origins and Evolution of Islam at Kiss the Book
Red Madrassa (and author interview) at Geo Librarian
Slam at Guys Lit Wire
Something to Prove at Kiss the Book
Spirit Princess at Charlotte's Library
Underground at Great Kid Books
Various titles at Teacher Dance.
What Color is My World at Teach.Mentor.Texts
Author Spotlight on John Steptoe at The Pageturn
Author Interviews every day in February at The Brown Bookshelf
A nice list of more YA books for boys at YA? Why Not?