Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian

Out of Nowhere - Maria Padian
'Okay, my family live in Somalia, right? And in Somalia there is big, big wars and fighting. Like, everyone is gets killed, and the peoples, they just … run. You just run, you know?'
No, I didn’t say. I don’t know. I have absolutely no idea.

Every once in a while I come across a story that reminds me why I fell in love with young adult contemporary. In the world of ya books there are too many that doesn't dare tackle hard issues and at the same time portray the characters as the age they actually are. I can't even remember how many books that either refuse to handle real issues in a sensible way and at the same time not glorify the characters to perfection. Out of Nowhere is managing to deal with several issues yet keeping our main character to remain what they are. Young people finding their way.

Out of Nowhere is centered around Tom from a small town in Maine. Ever since 9/11, immigrants mostly from Somalia have moved to their town which, unfortunately, isn't short on narrow-minded people. But Tom is just your average teenager. Sure, he's obnoxious and arrogant, but what high school kid isn't? When several members on the soccer squad suddenly are Somali kids people aren't too happy. Tom though, sees that these kids, especially Saeed, is great athletes. Between soccer, Tom also must face his college applications, his old girlfriend, the cultural differences suddenly right in front of him, family disputes on politics. And when Tom's best friend Donnie gets them both in trouble, things just gets harder.

'You know, Captain, outside of your family I doubt anyone much cares where or whether you go to college,' Myla continued. 'But as a healthy, smart white male growing up in one of the safest, most prosperous countries in the world, you know what? You have a moral obligation to do something worthwhile with your life and not be an asshole. Just sayin’.'

The most wonderful thing about this story is how real it is. In a time where immigration and religion, especially islam, are such hot topics with people shouting out opinions from left and right,Out of Nowhere offers a story what it's like for the regular small town to suddenly become multicultural. There's racism directed toward the Somali kids and much bigger problems than Tom's college applications, but those problems doesn't disappear into thin are just like that. Tom's journey through this story is about realizing his place in the world and what he wants to fight for. And it's done exceptionally well, dealing with topics like religion, immigrants, bullying, and more with great sensibility.

Highly recommended!