Title: “Out of Nowhere”
Author: Maria Padian
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Reviewed by: Books4Tomorrow
Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley
My star rating: 5/5
High school senior Tom Bouchard doesn't care about his options, until he meets people who have almost none.
At Chamberlain High School, Tom Bouchard has it made: captain and star of the soccer team, boyfriend to one of the prettiest, most popular girls, and third in his class, likely to have his pick of any college, if he ever bothers filling out his applications. But life in his idyllic small Maine town quickly gets turned upside down after the events of 9/11.
Enniston has become a "secondary migration" location for Somali refugees, who are seeking a better life after their country was destroyed by war—they can no longer go home. Tom hasn't thought much about his Somali classmates until four of them join the soccer team, including Saeed. He comes out of nowhere on the field to make impossible shots, and suddenly the team is winning, dominating even; but when Saeed's eligibility is questioned and Tom screws up in a big way, he's left to grapple with a culture he doesn't understand and take responsibility for his actions. Saeed and his family came out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly. And Tom may find himself going nowhere, too, if he doesn't start trying to get somewhere.
Any book that has sports in it is not my type of read. But a tagline comparing a book to the movie The Blind Side – which, in my opinion, was an absolutely brilliant movie – definitely gets my attention. I’m glad I gave Out of Nowhere a chance. It took me most of the weekend to finish reading it, even had me up in the middle of the night reading a couple more chapters, but it was worth every second. This book is definitely going on my Best Books of 2013 list!
There is more sport in this book than I would’ve liked to read, but I’ll admit it was written so well it felt as though I was in the centre of all the action. The author managed to capture the atmosphere in the crowd and the anxiety and excitement of the soccer players perfectly; I couldn’t help cheering loudly for each game they won and feeling utterly sad about the ones they lost. I felt every emotion the players felt. That said, this book is not entirely focused on the sport alone. It is a heart-warming tale encompassing the struggles and challenges of the everyday lives of a handful of individual characters learning, through trial and error, to accept those who are different; and the main character, Tom, learning some valuable life lessons in the process. It deals with – among other - diversity, adversity, faith, and acceptance of the unknown.
This story, thank goodness, isn’t an exact reproduction of the movie The Blind Side, but it does hold a few similarities to it in showing how differently people deal with, and attempt to cross (or not), cultural boundaries. The author efficiently and sensitively portrays both perspectives by showing the pros and cons of accepting refugees from a war zone, into a small town already under the strain of an influx of foreigners. The characters are realistic and I couldn’t help feeling emotionally invested in them. The author shares a lot of interesting background information about Somalis and the Muslim culture in an effort to have the reader better understand these characters in this book. It was clear she did her research really well.
Out of Nowhere is one of those books I’ll be thinking about months from now, and which I’ll definitely get as a gift for family and friends. It’s not a story you read, but rather one you experience. There were a lot of times I cried while reading this book, not only because of heart-wrenching moments in the story, but also because how some of the main character’s best intentions, didn’t turn out so well and resulted in far-reaching consequences for some of the other characters. It showed me again how bad things happen to good people, but also how life balances this out with good things happening to good people when least expected. This is a multi-layered story focusing on a lot of different themes, and even though the team sport soccer is at the centre of it all, I wouldn’t have written it differently if I were in the author’s shoes.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
READ more REVIEWS
Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian has 19 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.
ABOUT the AUTHOR
MARIA PADIAN is the author of Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best and Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress, which was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults. A graduate of Middlebury College and the University of Virginia, she has also attended Oxford University and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Born in New York but raised in New Jersey, she now lives in Maine with her family and their Australian shepherd, and was inspired by the events in her community to write Out of Nowhere.