I have been meaning to read When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed for quite some time. I heard how amazing this middle grade graphic novel was and it sure did not disappoint. I think this is a must-read for anyone.

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The summary, from Amazon:

A National Book Award Finalist, this remarkable graphic novel is about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a former Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

Buy When Stars Are Scattered here.

When Stars are Scattered is based on Omar’s true story of life as a Somali refugee in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. The boys left behind Somalia when Omar was only four due to the war. The experience was traumatic, and the boys do not know if their mother is alive or not. Omar wonders why she hasn’t found them yet if she is.
At Dadaab, Omar and Hassan make friends and form a new family. Life is not easy, and for many years Omar feels he needs to not attend school in order to care for Hassan, who is nonverbal and also has seizures. Eventually, Omar begins to attend school. He also starts dreaming about the United Nations relocating them to America.
This book was absolutely heart-wrenching. Sometimes I skip the afterward with books, but with this one I had to find out what happened when Omar and Hassan grew up. I am so glad I had the chance to read this one and recommend it to readers of all ages.

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When Stars Are ScatteredWhen Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


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Book Club Questions

  1. Why does Omar not attend school at first? Why does he start?
  2. Why is leaving Dadaab more of a sad experience than a happy one for Omar and other people who live there and move on?
  3. What are the themes of this novel?

Interested? Buy When Stars Are Scattered.
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