Title: Like Home
Author: Louisa Onomé
Pages: 416 pages
Review copy: Library
Availability: Available now!
Summary: Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil.
Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good. Only, Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends on Ginger East with promises to “fix” it. Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama unfolding on a national scale.
Worse yet, Kate is acting strange. She’s pushing Nelo away at the exact moment they need each other most. Nelo’s entire world is morphing into something she hates, and she must figure out how to get things back on track or risk losing everything—and everyone—she loves. [Image and summary via Goodreads]
Review: I know I say this a lot, but just look at that cover! The warm colors, the sense of camaraderie, the soft glow of the street light… it fits so well with what Like Home is all about. I am absolutely loving the current trend of illustrated covers, especially since it’s giving us covers like this one. Just incredible.
And now let’s move on to what’s between the covers: Chinelo has a deep to her neighborhood, Ginger East, where she grew up. She cherishes her childhood memories and the friends she made there, but things have changed since then. Her friends, with the exception of her best friend Kate, have moved away, and the ripple effects of gentrification are making themselves known. When Kate’s family store is vandalized, Nelo must confront the change coming to her neighborhood.
Like Home deftly portrays gentrification, but at its core, this is a story about neighborhood and community and friendship. It’s skillfully written, with a cast of characters that you quickly come to know and love. Friend groups can be tricky to pull off, but Like Home does it so well. And fittingly, Like Home has an incredible sense of place.
The book’s blurb does not lie — fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love Like Home. This is a powerful and poignant YA contemporary that you should definitely pick up when you get the chance. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Onomé’s next book Model Minority, out in 2022.
Recommendation: Get it soon!