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 neighbourhood into turmoil.
Chinelo or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighbourhood 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.
I have a friend named Chinelo, who I love calling Nelo, bonus is she’s a bibliophile and blogger. I’m Nigerian, so any book with Nigerian instantly captures my attention, but Like Home itself is a book that is easy to gobble up in one sitting because it opens your eyes and mind to many issues such as gentrification, how the media comes into play, activism, economic status and what change means.
It’s a story about changes and how it’s easy to get stuck in the process of adapting, we get to see our main character Chinelo grappling with various new realities, such as her body going through puberty, drifting away from Kate, her best friend, the gentrification of her neighbourhood, Ginger East and a budding feelings/relationship with Rafa. Everything and the emotions she feels come through has authentic and I was able to feel her plight through Onome’s words. A story about beautiful friendships and the up and downs that might come with them.
Despite enjoying some aspects of this book, it took a couple of chapters for me to fully settle into the story, and still, I found the story dragged in some places and a bit of repetition was happening, those are my only qualms, it’s an easy and important book to read, so do add it to your shelves.
About the Author
Louisa Onomé is a Nigerian-Canadian writer of books for teens. She holds a BA in professional writing from York University and is an all-around cheerleader for diverse works and writers. When she is not writing, her hobbies include picking up languages she may never use, crying over her favourite video games, and perfecting her skincare routine. She currently resides in the Toronto area.
Thank you, Hear Our Voices Book Tours, for including me in this blog tour.