When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

“But we are not one star. We are millions. Not one background, but millions.

To the untrained eye, the night sky is a scattering of stars, a chaos of light and dark across the universe.

And yet, the stars are not lost.
They form patterns. Constellations. If you know how to look, there are stories woven into the very essense of stars.

Be like a star. Shine your light. Shine your story. For stories will lead us home.”
― Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, When Stars Are Scattered

Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson worked together to create When Stars are Scattered, a graphic memoir telling the story of Omar and his younger brother’s lives as refugees. Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in a refugee camp in Kenya called Dadaab. Separated from their mother at a tender age, the two young boys are taken in by an older woman in the camp who becomes their foster mother/legal guardian. Life in the camp is boring. Hassan has complex medical needs that the doctors in the camp don’t know how to treat. There is never enough food. Straying too far past their camp could result in bullies taking their clothes.

When Omar is offered the chance to go to school, he is torn. He would love to go to school. He wants to learn. School would also add some liveliness into his day. If he went, he would have to stay away from Hassan for longer periods of time, something that he isn’t quite sure Hassan would understand given that they are the only family the other has left. The balance between family duty and the chance to change their future weighs on Omar the entire time they live in the refugee camp.

This graphic memoir was heartbreaking, yet full of so much tender hope. Victoria captures Omar’s story so expressively and manages to inject humor into a difficult situation. While the art style is simple, it doesn’t detract from the point the authors are making. This retelling of Omar’s story pulls on your hearstrings and will bounce your feelings all over the place. Even though this is categorized as a juvenile graphic novel, this story is applicable to readers of any age.

This title is also available as a Libby eBook and Libby eAudiobook.

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