Home of the Brave

Home of the Brave - Katherine Applegate

Kek is new to America, having made the trip from Africa but he still yearns for his past. For now, Kek is living with his aunt and cousin until they can find his mother. The placement worker from the refugee center is working on her whereabouts but for now, he holds onto a slip of fabric, the only physical object he has of hers. Dave is helping the family adjust to life in the states, a life of harsh weather, a life of rules, and a simpler way of life than Kek can handle. The text is rich in language even though a language barrier has the individuals struggling for words. Kek’s tongue becomes twisted in knots, trying to force the words out even although he’s really not sure of what words should actually be spoken. His native tongue was a jewel; each word was handpicked and painted a picture. They were not just written text on a page but an illustration wonderfully created through the use of letters on the page. I loved his thoughts and his comments and I wanted more. Even though his words were lengthy, they spoke volumes. I feared for him learning our English and the way that we thought, would it limit him and would he lose his imagination? Living in Minnesota in the winter, Kek commented, “laughter makes little clouds” when he saw what breathing does in the cold and his comment on the color of Dave’s hair put a smile on my face, when he said that it was, “the color of clouds before the rain.” Language such as this is rich, it sings and it made me love Kek and his vision of the world. When Kek sees a cow, a sad looking cow, Kek is reminded of his native land and he knows that he must do something. Kek is a strong individual, one who is determined to accomplish what he sets out to do, even if he must step it alone. It’s a coming of age story with a boy who is in uncharted territory. Written in verse, the novel had me torn on where I wanted Kek to land.