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Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Home of the Brave

by Katherine Applegate

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"Home. What a heartbreaking word that is, when you don't have one."
Kek comes from Africa where he lives with his mother, father and brother. After his father and brother are killed, he is sent to a Refugee Resettlement Center in Minnesota in the middle of the winter. He gets there traveling on a flying boat, (airplane), and is given a fat shirt, (coat), and soft things like hands, (gloves.) The only thing familiar is an old geriatric cow in a field as he travels by on the way to a new home. He convinces Dave to stop. He pets the cow and feels sorry for the lonely creature. Kek manages to find his way back to this little farm and Lou a widow, hires Kek to take care of the farm which means he gets to spend time with the cow, whom he names Gol, (Gol means family in Kek's language.) He also befriends a girl in his building who is living in a crowded apartment with a foster family. She helps Kek make his way through the American ways. He makes many blunders such as putting on pajamas to wear to school. He doesn't understand the Western Clothes. And if a washing machine is for washing, why shouldn't you put the dishes in there to be cleaned? When he visits the library, Kek wonders why they would let him take one of these magical presents home.
As Kek makes finds his way in this cold Minnesota town, he wonders if he will ever see his mother again. The powers that be have promised to look for her in the other refugee camps, but so far she has not shown up.
Kek states at one point that maybe he wil learn to like living in America. Another refugee tells him, "yeah, thatr's what I thought, too. but you'll never really feel lie an American, you'll see."
This is a sad but actually a very sweet story written in the style of prose.
to further experience Kek's point of view, visit these websites.
( )
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
Surprisingly easy to read and enjoyable. Of course it's a big deal for Kek to have lost most of his family, and his home, and be shipped 1/2way around the world, but it doesn't have to be a bleak & depressing story, and in Applegate's hands it's not. Don't think she's a hack just because she's written Animorphs and other series. This is actually the most heartfelt and graceful free verse immigrant story I've read lately,* and it rates pretty high up there in all modern MG realistic fiction I've ever read, too.

*I'm comparing it, offhand, to The Weight of Water and Inside Out and Back Again.

Upon meeting his teacher in Minnesota:

I'm ready to begin
my learning, I say,
and she tosses out a loud laugh
like a ball into the air..."

Upon reflecting about the MN cow that has made him less homesick for his father's herd:

"You can have your dogs and cats,
your gerbils and hamsters
and sleek sparkling fish.
But you will have lived
just half a life
if you never love a cow."

I especially admire the way the author uses a limited vocabulary and shows us a bewildered child at the beginning of the book, but uses more advanced words and ideas as the boy learns more English and grows more confident and comfortable in his new home." ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
I read Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate. The book is about an 11 year old boy named Kek who moved from Africa to Minnesota. He moved because his refugee camp was attacked by men with guns. The problem is Kek doesn't have a family and Minnesota is not like Africa. He made some friends and he worked taking care of a cow for someone and he felt like he was home. Eventually his mother came to Minnesota. The theme is that there's always happiness in sad times. I liked how Kek never gave up on his mother. ( )
  LarsS12 | Feb 7, 2016 |
Kek is so hopeful and optimistic about his new life in America even as he misinterprets daily life and is homesick for his missing mother and African homeland. Another nice addition to the genre of the immigrant/refugee experience in America.

Kek is a young African refugee who settles in wintry Minnesota with his aunt and teenage cousin Ganwar. (Their country of origin is never
specified.) With their help, and that of caseworker Dave and a girl named Hannah who lives in the same apartment building, Kek tries to acclimate to his new surroundings. He is hopeful and optimistic even as he misinterprets daily life: He puts the dirty dishes in the washing machine only to destroy the set but he finds a job helping an elderly woman with her small farm and uses the money to buy new dishes. He is also hopeful that his mother will be found and will join him in America although Dave and the others are less optimistic. There are also the dark clouds: nightmares of the killings of his father and brother, homesickness, and the overwhelming confusion of American life. By the following autumn, in an epilogue, Kek's mother reunites with the family.
( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Absolutely amazing. A novel in verse, this one made me chuckle and filled me with warmth. Themes include hope, making a new home, starting over, being unfamiliar with one's surroundings, etc. I highly recommend this to anyone: Grades 4 and up, I'd say. ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312535635, Paperback)

A man I helped to settle here
taught me a saying from Africa.
I’ll bet you would like it:
A cow is God with a wet nose.

Kek comes from Africa where he lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived. Now she’s missing, and Kek has been sent to a new home. In America, he sees snow for the first time, and feels its sting. He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the winter—cold and unkind. But slowly he makes friends: a girl in foster care, an old woman with a rundown farm, and a sweet, sad cow that reminds Kek of home. As he waits for word of his mother’s fate, Kek weathers the tough Minnesota winter by finding warmth in his new friendships, strength in his memories, and belief in his new country.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An African refugee is confronted by many strange things at his aunt's American home, and in his classroom, and longs for his missing mother, but finds comfort in the company of a cow and her owner.

» see all 2 descriptions

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