Review: Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

4 stars (I liked it a lot).

This novel, told in verse, follows a Syrian pre-teen as she travels to the US with her mother to live with family in Cincinnati when their hometown becomes unsafe.

I should have read the print version of this one. The narrator was fine, but I think certain aspects of the book don’t work if you don’t have the visual formatting to draw attention to certain words and phrases, to give them weight. The result was that I wasn’t ever really *into* this book, and I think I would have been if I had had the physical copy and had been able to savor certain parts rather than just barreling through them with the audiobook. I also felt like it was a little heavy handed with the message at times, though in verse form, I think I would have been more patient with that.

The main character was fully realized, and the message is timely and important. Would be great for fans of Out of the Dust and Wishtree.

Review: Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

4 stars

Blood Water Paint cover (link to Goodreads)

This is a novel told in verse based on the true story of painter Artemesia Gentileschi. It’s beautifully written and raw and harrowing. While Artemesia was a teenaged painter of no small skill (you can look up her paintings, but be warned that some of them are rather gory), she was raped by her tutor. The story that follows is almost unbelievable. Artemesia is a courageous heroine, and her story is well worth reading.

Not 5 stars only because this isn’t my favorite genre in general and because the message was a little overt for my tastes. I would also only recommend it for older teens who can handle the heavy subject matter.