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Enniston has become a "secondary migration" location for Somali refugees, who are seeking a better life after their country was destroyed by war--they can no longer go home. Tom hasn't thought much about his Somali classmates until four of them join the soccer team, including Saeed. He comes out of nowhere on the field to make impossible shots, and suddenly the team is winning, dominating even; but when Saeed's eligibility is questioned and Tom screws up in a big way, he's left to grapple with a culture he doesn't understand and take responsibility for his actions. Saeed and his family came out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly. And Tom may find himself going nowhere, too, if he doesn't start trying to get somewhere.
- ISBN-13: 9780375865800
- ISBN-10: 0375865802
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: February 2013
- Page Count: 337
- Reading Level: Ages 12-UP
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-12-10
- Reviewer: Staff
The influx of Somali refugees into a small Maine town proves eye-opening for senior soccer captain Tom Bouchard. Between the language barriers and unfamiliar Muslim traditions and customs, this “secondary migration” has brought tension, uneasiness, and confusion to his high school and community. Meanwhile, Tom’s friend Donnie persuades him to deface a wealthy rival soccer team’s property; when caught, Tom is sentenced to community service: tutoring Somalis. There, he develops a crush on a college girl and receives an education about Somali culture, which gives him a new perspective on both his history and his future. Padian (Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best) impressively handles many plot threads at once: Tom befriends Somali soccer player Saeed, questions his loyalty to Donnie and his relationship with his girlfriend, and frets over the approaching state soccer tournament. The author gracefully explores the intersections between culture and religion, as well as suspicion and prejudice in a post-9/11 world. Her well-formed characters and realistic circumstances make for a large and powerful story about re-evaluating one’s beliefs. Ages 12–up. Agent: Edite Kroll, Edite Kroll Literary Agency. (Feb.)