Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil.
Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good.
Only, Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends on Ginger East with promises to “fix” it. Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama unfolding on a national scale.
Worse yet, Kate is acting strange. She’s pushing Nelo away at the exact moment they need each other most. Nelo’s entire world is morphing into something she hates, and she must figure out how to get things back on track or risk losing everything—and everyone—she loves.
Title: Like Home
Author: Louisa Onomé
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: February 23d, 2021
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
Representation: Nigerian main character, Columbian side character, Black side character, Vietnamese side character
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of shootings and death (not graphic, chapter 8, chapter 16), mentions of gangs, mentions of drugs, vandalism, racism (chapter 20), blood (chapter 31), protests and mentions of tear gas (not graphic, chapter 31), police
A huge thank you to Turn the Pages Tour for having me on this blog tour and to Delacorte Press for providing me with an ARC for this blog tour!
Like Home is a book that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time! As an avid reader of Elizabeth Acevedo and a lover of the musical In The Heights, seeing Like Home recommended for fans of both had me instantly adding it to my TBR. This book met all of my expectations and I loved reading it!
Like Home is a lovely story about friendship, the challenges we face as we grow up, and how the place that we’re from shapes us into the people we become. Nelo has lived in Ginger East her entire life and has a very strong emotional connection to this community and the people who live there. This story is a love letter to Ginger East, and while it may not be a real place, Ginger East represents hundreds of thousands of very real small communities around the world. Onomé’s descriptive writing makes it easy to picture the community of Ginger East and those within it.
The driving force of this book may be Nelo’s love for Ginger East, but the heart of this book is Nelo’s friendship with Kate. Their friendship is strong and solid and it’s hard to imagine one without the other. They’re the friends who spend more time at each other’s houses than their own, the ones who can communicate an entire sentence through a raised eyebrow or tilt of the head, and the ones who can laugh and poke fun at each other, but you know that they will always be there for you. Because of that strong bond, my heart was breaking for both Nelo and Kate as circumstances and choices started to pull them away from each other. I was so glad that in the end, they were able to talk through what was going on and continued to strengthen their relationship. While there are side romances in the story (that I was absolutely rooting for), the real love story for Nelo is her love for her community and her friendship with Kate.
Nelo, like most teenagers (and adults if we’re being honest), has a difficult time dealing with change. She spends a large part of the book fighting the changes that are happening around the neighborhood and in her personal life. While sometimes I found myself a little annoyed at some of the pushback Nelo was giving, I understood where she was coming from. Change is always difficult, and when so much of it is happening at once it can be hard to handle. For me, this struggle added to Nelo’s relatability.
Like Home also features some great commentary on social justice, performative activism, and media perception. After Ginger Store – the convenience store owned by Kate’s Vietnamese family – is vandalized, the media immediately calls it a break-in and stories are spiraling about how unsafe the neighborhood is and how things like that always happen in Ginger East. The neighborhood has had its fair share of crime and violence, but Nelo is quick to remind people that this sort of situation doesn’t happen every day, even though the media is reporting as if it does. There’s also a scene where there is a peaceful protest, which unfortunately turns into a dangerous situation. The media is quick to call it a riot, even though as Nelo points out, “it was peaceful until the cops showed up”. These media reports vs. accounts from people who were there to witness the situations definitely mirror what has been happening around the world. This story is quick to remind us that not only are there two sides to every story, but it is unfair to make assumptions based on a perceived notion.
Overall, Like Home is an excellent debut novel that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys coming-of-age stories. After this debut, I can’t wait to see what Onomé writes next.
*Note that I am not Nigerian and will be linking ownvoice reviews once they are found.
Up for grabs, we have TWO (2) finished copies of Like Home by Louisa Onomé! This giveaway will run from February 21st to February 28th at 11:59 PM CST and is open to US residents only. To enter, click the link below!GIVEAWAY LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d22/?
Louisa Onomé is a writer of books for teens. She holds a BA in professional writing from York University and is represented by Claire Friedman at InkWell Management.
A part of the Author Mentor Match round 3 cohort, she is also a writing mentor and all-around cheerleader for diverse works and writers. When she is not writing, her hobbies include picking up languages she may never use, trying to bake bread, and perfecting her skincare routine. She currently resides in the Toronto area.