Home Is In Between
Picture Book | Macmillan FSG | Coming 2/23/21
A Junior Library Guild Selection
My parents were from the villages of Bengal. They brought me to the United States when I was seven and raised me in a town where we were one of a few families from other countries. I worked hard to understand “American” manners, slang, trends, and rituals—the “code” at school. At the same time, I was trying to stay fluent in traditional Bengali culture and language—the “code” of home. Going back and forth was tiring, and I often felt as if I didn’t belong in either world. But once I grew up, I realized that switching between two codes as a child had been a gift. It’s like learning a new language—kids are faster and better at it than grown-ups. And if we work at it as kids, we keep some ability to crack cultural codes for the rest of our lives. “It’s like a superpower,” I tell young immigrants. The space between cultures doesn’t have to be a barrier; for children who grow up there, it can become a threshold of gratitude to celebrate the best of many worlds. I hope readers make themselves at home in Shanti’s story. Her name in Bangla means “peace.”
Notes on the Design
My favorite scene comes at the end, when a larger-than-life Shanti, still in the gutter of the book but now clearly in charge of it, celebrates her ability to traverse both worlds fluently.