TITLE: Home of the Brave
AUTHOR: Katherine Applegate
PUBLISHED DATE: 2007
Home of the Brave is a story about Kek, an African refugee who moves to Minnesota in winter and struggles to find his place in this very different society. The writing is nice, and one could almost get wrapped up in it, but there was something not write, and it immediately became clear to me what it was.
WHERE IN AFRICA IS KEK FROM?
So much of the poignancy of the story was completely lost on me. As Kek describes watching the gazelle graze in his village, or compares the harshness of America with that of "Africa" I just kept wondering - where in Africa is Kek from. And because this question remained unanswered, it tainted the entire rest of the story for me.
It is no secret that most of the literature about black people that is published is written by white authors, and this is a very sad and unfortunate thing. Often times, when white authors write stories about black characters, they are trying to put themselves in the mind frame, and things that are fundamentally important to that culture get lost, because it would never occur to the white author. Africa is such a vast continent! The geography, politics, environmental factors, language, culture is extremely diverse. Kek is from Africa, he has a language barrier, but it is never addressed what his native language is. Is he from a francophone of an anglophone country. He is a refugee, but what were the circumstances that made him a refugee? It was unclear to me. Also, a simple Google search would reveal that Kek is an Egyptian name. Is Kek an Egyptian? If so what were his cultural roots? I was just really confused. Applegate poetically describes Kek's encounters with snow - this is a novel in verse after all. She also won an award for this book, and reviews rave about the book on both Amazon and Goodreads. I am less than a fan.
Recommendation: If you really want to, but I'd say save your time and go pick up Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Audience: Children (Grades 5 and up)