Home Of The Brave

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.

This book has been included in WOW’s Language and Learning: Children’s and Young Adult Fiction Booklist. For our current list, visit our Booklist page under Resources in the green navigation bar.

One thought on “Home Of The Brave

  1. Johnson & Gasiewicz says:

    Katherine Applegate’s, Home of the Brave had me a bit conflicted. The story presents the acclimation of one young man who was a child in the Sudan during its brutal Civil War, and in a way, it is the denouement of the tragic experiences those in Sudan experienced in their home country. But that is somewhat problematic to me. While I am happy to think that the USA is a refuge to those endangered within their own countries, there are still critical struggles in acclimating to a new culture that did not seem to translate to Kek’s story. When I first entered the read, I was charmed by the main character Kek’s naiveté and liked what I call the orality of the book–in the sense that it sounded like Kek was speaking to the reader, in what I would consider more hesitant language rather than a flowing narrative. The use of language when he described his home and his life back in Africa was lovely, but there was more of a general sense of “Africa” rather than the particular country of Sudan, and that had me concerned. Since the book infers some of the horrible things that happened in “Africa,” there is a generalization of violence that seems somewhat unfair to the entire continent.
    My first read of the text left me with Kek’s feel-good story as a refugee in America. I was left with a sense he found a home here and security in his community. I had to read closely to figure out he is from Sudan, otherwise there are in fact sweeping generalizations about Africa. At first, I appreciated the generalizations because I thought it made the story more applicable, more young readers could connect. However, when really thinking about cultural authenticity and accuracy, and researching Applegate, I think those generalizations were choices made by the author. Perhaps she made the choices to remain vague, or she made the choices because she is an outsider to the culture and does not seem to have any experience or first-hand knowledge of the life of a refugee. This knowledge changed my perspective on the text and made me feel as though young people would benefit from a more accurate text or least pairing a more informational text with Home of the Brave.
    Good point about pairing with an informational text or at least other texts that would flesh out Home of the Brave. Perhaps Disco’s (2011) graphic novel, Echoes of the Lost Boys of Sudan, which is written through first person, the Coretta Scott King Honor picture book, Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan (Williams, Christie, & Christie, 2005), and Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan (Dau, 2007) would give a more specific picture of what happened in Sudan so students would then understand some of the particular incidents referred to in Home of the Brave. The more I think about this book in relation to a text set, I think it would be a nice read for many young people. I just think building young readers’ prior knowledge about the context of the story would be in order.

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