I’ve been struggling a lot with how to write this review. I’m a white guy, I’ve lived a privileged life. Sure, there have been instances of struggle in my life. I’ve struggled to fit in, to figure out who I am. Hell, I’m still trying to figure that last part out. I’ve struggle to find my home, where I truly feel like I belong.

That is the basis for Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo. This junior fiction novel in verse centers on Nima’s struggle to fit in. She feels out of place in America as she’s Middle Eastern and, as we know, being Middle Eastern in America in a post-9/11 world is not a happy existence. She also does not feel like she’s truly Middle Eastern. All she has are memories shared from her mom and old tapes from her homeland. Her dad died back home before she was born. She doesn’t feel like she’s even a whole person.

Sometimes she dreams of being Yasmeen, the girl her dad wanted. She’s bright and vibrant. She speaks fluent Arabic and English. She’s the yellow flower of her mom’s life. Nima starts to see a flickering image of Yasmeen whenever she feels empty. She sees the girl she wants to be. Here’s where it goes from a general angsty junior fiction book to a supernatural-infused introspection on who Nima could be. I really don’t want to spoil it for you, but it really takes a left turn in a great way.

I’ll be honest, it was a struggle to get started on this book. I didn’t understand why it was in verse (although I love novels in verse) and it was really boring, to be honest. However, once it hits that twist, it is fantastic. I absolutely loved this book by the end of it. Nima’s story is something to really behold.

I honestly was prepared to rate this at 3/5, 5/10 until that middle change. Now, it’s a 5/5, 10/10. Definitely pick this up on March 2nd, 2021.

Thanks NetGalley for the eARC!