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Title: Like Home
Author: Louisa Onomé
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Trigger Warnings: Blood, Police Violence, Protests
Final Rating: 4.5 stars
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
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.
What I liked ~
The important themes and messages portrayed throughout the novel. I feel like I’ve been including this in a lot of my reviews recently, but I’ve also found that compared to January, and 2020 as a whole, I’ve been reading really heavy books in February, and all these books tackle tough topics such as Racism, Social Justice, Sexual Assault, etc. I’ve also noticed that the books I’ve been reading recently have really moved me, especially Like Home. In this novel, we get to see Chinelo, or Nelo grappling with her insecurities, and adapt to her entire world changing around her. Just the way Like Home is written will move you, because it’s SO powerful, and is definitely one of the most moving books I’ve had the pleasure to read.
The coming-of-age aspect of the story. Like I mentioned earlier, in this novel, we get to see Nelo grow, and get used to the change around her. We watch the way her neighborhood and the people around her affect her decisions and actions, and we can see her growth from page 1. Seeing Nelo grow, and accept the changes taking place around her made me want to give her a huge hug. Knowing that along with the world around her changing, she was also struggling to find herself, made Like Home so much more interesting as a story, and created complexities in Nelo’s character. Her personality was so unique, refreshing and didn’t follow a specific trope. I love that she cared so deeply about her neighborhood, and wasn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right. Seeing what was going on inside her head was so intriguing for me, because her thoughts and emotions were described so intricately. This made Nelo, as a character felt realistic, and was a character I could relate to most of the time.
What wasn’t my cup of tea ~
There only being one POV. I think I mentioned earlier that I thought this book was really powerful. I’m not disputing that, but I definitely think it had more potential. The cast of characters is so amazing, and all their thoughts are so diverse, but we only get to see these events taking place in Nelo’s perspective. Yes, Nelo was an interesting character, but the story could have been so much more meaningful if we had multiple perspectives! I’m not complaining over here, because Like Home was still a fantastic read, but including multiple POVs could make it better.
Gentrification is something I haven’t read about in novels before, so seeing it Like Home was a first for me. Although before going in I had high expectations, I think it’s safe to say that these expectations were surpassed, and I will be having even higher ones for Lousia Onomé’s next book! Some of the things I loved in this novel would definitely have to be the character development, as well as the coming-of-age storyline. Incorporated throughout were also prominent themes and messages that are relevant to today’s society. Overall, settling at 4.5 stars, Like Home is a powerful debut that really made me think about my role in society. Inspiring, and thought-provoking, I cannot wait to read the authors next book.
About the Author
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.
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