- Like Home by Louisa Onomé
Library ed. ISBN 9780593172612 $20.99
Trade ed. ISBN 9780593172599 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9780593172605 $10.99
Reviewed from digital galleys Ad Gr. 7–10
Chinelo, known as Nelo, loves her multicultural Toronto-area neighborhood, Ginger East, despite the fact that it’s pretty rough. When the local store, owned by the parents of her best friend, Kate Tran, gets vandalized with a brick through its window, that’s the final straw for the Trans, who decide to sell up the store and move. Nelo, devastated by that possibility and what it indicates about the changes in her troubled neighborhood, decides that finding the culprit and proving they’re an outsider will convince the Trans that the crime wasn’t an indication of a deteriorating neighborhood and that it’s better to stay. Onomé deftly depicts often underconsidered socioeconomic issues here, portraying a seedy but close-knit urban neighborhood where “people like to hang out on the street corners, and everyone here knows each other, even if you’re up to no good,” and where Nelo’s Nigerian-Canadian mother loves the subtitled Chinese movies she gets from the [End Page 309] Vietnamese-owned corner store. Nelo’s love of the place believably skews her view of both events and people. The messaging about just what is happening to the neighborhood is unclear, though, since it seems both to be getting more dangerous and more gentrified, and some events strain credulity; the writing is uneven, with beautifully apt phrasing (“He’s got that ‘nicer neighborhood’ glow”) sometimes undermined by awkwardness. Nelo’s determined narration nonetheless provides a thoughtful look at a place—and a girl—struggling with all kinds of change.