In some bookstores, I believe some books choose you! This book chose me! While browsing in a lovely bookstore in Nantucket, I pulled this book off the shelf and immediately took it to the register after reading the synopsis. I love reading graphic novels and am interested in learning more about different lives and cultures. I am also interested in learning about the experiences that people go through in refugee camps.
When Stars Are Scattered is a middle-grade graphic novel about Omar and his younger brother Hassan who have spent most of their childhood in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Omar’s brother, Hassan has limited communication, epilepsy, and developmental disabilities and it’s Omar’s responsibility to take care of his younger brother after being separated from their mother.
Omar is a strong and compassionate character who has strong beliefs in family, friendships, and education. Throughout this story (which I read in close to 2.5 hours), Omar experiences so many different emotions such as loneliness, loss, and grief. He also experiences positive emotions such as pride and love for his brother, Fatuma, and his friendships. When reading this book, we also learn about Hassan and the emotions he experiences such as feeling alone and scared but also learning how to become more independent and being an important part of a community. Reading this book will also help others learn about a different way of life and how refugees in camps struggle to find food, education, and other things that we may take for granted.
When Stars Are Scattered also shows the experience of being resettled and the complex long process that people go through. This book is a gem of graphic novels and a wonderful book to read in homes, classrooms, libraries, and book clubs.
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Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson
Omar Mohamed spent his childhood at the Dadaab camp after his father was killed and he was separated from his mother in Somalia. He devoted everything to taking care of his younger brother, Hassan, and to pursue his education. He now lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with his wife and five children, and works at a center to help resettle other refugees. He is the founder of Refugee Strong, a nonprofit organization that empowers students living in refugee camps.
Victoria Jamieson is the creator of graphic novels All’s Faire in Middle School and Newbery Honor Book Roller Girls. To learn more about Victoria and her beautiful work, visit her website here.
To watch an interview by Politics and Prose with Victoria and Omar, watch below!