> One More Stamp: Book Review: Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book Review: Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian

Book Review: Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian 

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Series: no
Release date: 
February 12th 2013 
Rating: Pretty darn good

"You gotta wonder who the genius was that came up with the plan to put a bunch of Africans in Maine, the coldest, whitest state in America"

This is the story of Tom Bouchard, a soccer team, a small town in Maine, an influx of Somali refugees, and the small choices we make every day.  How do we do what is both right for ourselves and for others?  How do we make that the same thing?

One aspect of this book that I found both interesting and accurate at the same time was the distance that was maintained between Saeed and Tom even after they become friends.  They aren't speaking the same language.  This sis true in a literal sense, a cultural sense, and from a life experience sense.  This doesn't mean that their friendship isn't valid but it does leave a lot of room for misunderstandings. Until they can speak one language together fluently they are always going to find one another slightly puzzling.

The casual racism displayed in this book was infuriating. Realistic, but infuriating. People call the Somali players, "Osama".  Someone jokes that Mecca is over by the mall and the girls wearing hijabs are a constant source of ridicule.  The thing that is so realistic is that no one really thinks that they are being cruel.  They see themselves and being funny and anyone who points that out is seen as a killjoy.  
I teach an an international school.  More than 80% of my students are not native English speakers. It takes a certain amount of effort but it does not have to been the train wreck of the school in this book. Yes, strong EAL teachers are needed (and don't seem to be present here) but all teachers and staff have to accept and embrace that face that WE ARE ALL LANGUAGE TEACHERS.  The portrayal of support that the students receive (which is probably very accurate) hurts my heart. The school was obviously trying but also sort of flailing wildly in an attempt to find a "solution". I may have been yelling at the book while reading.

I found that this book balanced plot well with characterization.  Sometimes, after I am done reading a very character focused book I struggle to remember what actually happened in the story.  In this book both the plot and the characters were given due attention.

Bottom line: Thought provoking, entertaining, and well worth reading.

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