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When Stars Are Scattered

by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Published by Dial, 2020
264 pages
ISBN: 9780525553915

Ages 9-13

Separated from their mother when soldiers attacked their Somalian village, Omar and his brother, Hassan, live in a sprawling refugee camp in Kenya, watched over by loving foster mother Fatuma. Fiercely protective of Hassan, who has a developmental disability and experiences seizures, Omar hesitates to begin school, but excels in his classes once he does. School provides structure to the otherwise long, monotonous days, which become years, of waiting: to be called for an interview, to be told they can be resettled in North America or Europe, to be reunited with their mother, whose fate is unknown, although Omar searches for answers every chance he has. This personal memoir, a collaboration between Omar Mohamed, who now works in refugee resettlement, and graphic novelist Victoria Jamieson, details the specifics of Omar and Hassan’s lives, including their friendships with others in the camp. In doing so, it illuminates the hardships of refugee life in general—crowding, food and water shortages, hopelessness—the challenge for people with disabilities, and the particular situations of girls and women. Colorful, expressive illustrations, a satisfying ending, and Mohamed’s illuminating author’s note with photographs, balance the very real trauma and pain of this moving story. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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