Drita, My Homegirl Jenny Lombard
Maxie's mother died three years ago and her dad is starting to date again, much to her dismay. She's acting out in little ways, including making fun of the new girl at school, Drita, and getting all the other kids to do it, too.
Drita's family just arrived in New York from Kosova*. She doesn't speak English, and her mother's cousin is still missing. Drita's mother's worry makes her mentally unwell, so Drita tells her everything is going great at school.
When the girls are assigned to work on a social studies project together, a friendship starts to form.
Told in alternating chapters, it's a simple, but ZOMG so wonderfully great story about two girls finding each other. They both have BIG THINGS going on in their lives, but they are also just kids, and the book is actually pretty funny. I'm a sucker for multiple narrators, and the Lombard does a good job of getting each voice right. There's the surface easiness-Drita's English is broken and studded with Albanian and Maxie's is urban sass, but the deeper motivations are there, too. You can tell that even if both girls had similar linguistic backgrounds, their voices would still be distinctly separate. I also really liked how the background info Kosova is worked in really well, but not to the point of overwhelming or getting in the way of the story.
This is one of those books that I was leafing through and just started reading and couldn't put it down. Even now, when I went to write the review, I went to look something up and ended up rereading the whole thing. It's just really, really well done.
*Drita tells us a few times that she knows when a non-Albanian is writing or talking about her home, because they call it Kosovo instead of Kosova, which is what she calls it, so, in honor of Drita, I've written Kosova here.
Book Provided by... my local library
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