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Excerpt from Like Home by Louisa Onome, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Like Home

by Louisa Onome

Like Home by Louisa Onome X
Like Home by Louisa Onome
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2021, 416 pages

    Paperback:
    Jul 23, 2024, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Althea Draper
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter One

My shoes scratch against the uneven pavement, and I know right away that they've been scuffed real bad. I immediately think of my mom—­I pretty much begged her to buy these shoes for me. "Take it out of my college fund or something," I told her, like an idiot, and she laughed in that stiff way she does whenever we talk about money. If she sees them scuffed up so early, I'll never hear the end of it. I'll never hear the end of the shoes, the same way I'll never hear the end of this—­this bra thing. I gotta tell Kate.

It is April, and Ginger East is quiet early in the morning, so my light footsteps sound like heavy boots as I run. The sun creeps over the top of the highest building on the main road, casting stale light on dusty storefronts and barely swept roads. A set of duplexes that used to be cash-­and-­carry outlets stares back at me as I reach the end of my street, Ginger Way. Mom used to buy fish and bedding from there. Two different departments, same store. They moved out a long time ago. Now it's a coffee place open bright and early at seven a.m. Man, the only people up this early in Ginger East are us schoolkids who need to catch a bus, the few homeless people who live in that shed behind the liquor store, and the Trans—­Kate and her family—­because they run Ginger Store.

My feet slow as I round the corner approaching Ginger Store, and then stop as I pull open the door. It's hard to get in with how the wind seems to be pushing at it. Mrs. Tran is at the register and immediately leans past the counter to see who it is.

She frantically waves at me and says, "Chinelo? Shut the door, please."

I do as I'm told, and the fierce wind tunnel dies. My carefully straightened hair, which I tried so hard to smooth down this morning, is frizzing around my shoulders. "The back door is open," she says, settling onto her stool behind the counter again. "Kate's dad is mopping the storage room, and with all the doors open—­whoosh," she explains, waving her hands around to symbolize the movement of air.

"Why doesn't he tell Jake to do it?" I ask. Jake is Kate's useless older brother who's gotten away with doing the absolute least because he's a boy. He'll straighten one shelf and complain for hours. He outgrew his cool-­older-­brother phase ages ago.

Mrs. Tran makes a face like she knows her son is useless and why would she even consider asking him? I laugh, a difficult feat after sprinting all the way here, and ask, "What about Kate?"

The sound of a freezer slamming in the back rings out, and then I notice Kate trudging up the middle aisle, her arms extended in front of her. Her lips are curled into a pout as she approaches, her stark dark hair gathered messily around her neck. "How many things do you want me to do in one morning? Like, damn." She grunts, shaking her hands.

I look at her fingers, because I feel her eyes are urging me to. They just look dry. "What's your problem?"

She ignores me and takes a slow step toward her mom at the counter. "Mom, my hands are fro-­zen. Can't I organize the ice cream after school? No one's out here buying ice cream before noon."

Her mom frowns all strict. Mrs. Tran is definitely the nicest Tran, so the small tic between her eyebrows really strikes fear into my scuffed-­shoed feet. I loop my arm with Kate's instantly, saying, "I'll help you."

"See?" Mrs. Tran cuts in with a wry smile. "Nelo is a good worker."

Kate's mouth drops open. "Worker? But you're not even paying her, though. You're not even paying me—­"

"Ah, so I should pay you to live in my house?"

I snort. My mom and Mrs. Tran are pretty much the same person at this point. They probably share insults on some group chat called Neighborhood Moms. "Come on," I say to Kate, tugging her down the aisle.

Excerpted from Like Home by Louisa Onome. Copyright © 2021 by Louisa Onome. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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