Rummanah Aasi
 Omar and his little brother, Hassan, arrived in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya, seven years ago. Their father was killed the day they left home, and they haven't seen their mother since they joined their neighbors who were fleeing to Dadaab. Now Omar is eleven and Hassan is nine, and Omar has quit school to look after his brother, who has an intellectual disability.
     When Omar is given the opportunity to return to school and carve out a future for himself and Hassan, he feels torn. He loves school and could have the opportunity to earn a coveted scholarship to a North American university--and with it a visa for himself and Hassan. But is it worth the risk and heartache of leaving his vulnerable brother for hours each day?

Review: When Stars Are Scattered is one of the best graphic memoirs that I have read thus far this year. We follow the day in the life of Omar Mohamed and his younger brother, Hassan, who live in the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya and their dreams of being resettled in a new land like the United States. We learn early on that Omar has to take care of Hassan, who has a seizure disorder and is unable to talk. Both boys are looked after by their foster mother, Fatuma, an elderly woman assigned to them in their parents’ absence. The boys’ father was killed in Somalia’s civil war, prompting them to flee on foot when they were separated from their mother. They desperately hope she is still alive and looking for them, as they are for her. 
   The graphic memoir covers six years, during which Omar struggles with decisions about attending school, juggling his responsibilities as an older brother along with his personal desire to want more for his future. True to life, the graphic memoir depicts the highs of learning and making new friends along with the lows and the difficulties of keeping hope for a future when the present time is so dark and grim. Through Omar’s journey, and those of his friends and family members, readers get a close, powerful view of the trauma and uncertainty that attend life as a refugee as well as the faith, love, and support from unexpected quarters that get people through it. I would have loved to see Omar's new life in the United States, but we are told in a narrative of his achievements. When Stars Are Scattered is another personal and human story to a much controversial topic of immigration. Jamieson's illustrations and panels are easy to read and follow. She captures the emotions of Omar and his friends so effectively. If you have not picked up this graphic memoir yet, I highly recommend it.  

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: Horrors of war are mentioned and most of the violence occurs off the page. There are a few instances of bullying portrayed. There are allusions to drug abuse and domestic violence. Recommended for Grades 5 and up.

If you like this book try: Stormy Seas by Mary Beth Leatherdale and for older readers The Unwanted by Don Brown
1 Response
  1. Ok. Adding this one to my TBR list as it sounds really great!

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