Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate was my son’s One School, One Book read this year. Applegate is a consistently great author for me, and this book is no exception. The story is a lyric narrative and word choice paints powerful emotions and images throughout the story.
It is Kek’s story, a refugee who lost his brother and father in war, and whose mother is currently missing after their camp was attacked.
Kek was brought to America to stay with his cousin and aunt, who were also relocated. Kek tries to assimilate to American life in Minnesota. He manages to find work at a nearby failing farm, just to have some semblance of home and to be near the farm’s solitary cow. He befriends a foster girl in his grade too. Kek’s character combines strength, softness and hope to get through the difficulties he is forced to face in his life.
Applegate’s note at the end of the story reminds us that people (for any number of reasons) may feel lost, alone or as though they don’t belong. While I don’t think many can imagine quite what it would feel like to go through the atrocities that Kek and his family have endured, I think we all can feel compassion and offer kindness to those who need it most.