An American Tale
Maria Padian draws on Lewiston’s experience to tell a twenty-first century immigrant story for teenagers.
Low crime, decent schools, empty textile mills, and a Franco-American population mixing uneasily with newly arrived refugees from Somalia: There’s little doubt that Lewiston is the inspiration for Enniston, Maine, the setting of Maria Padian’s third novel for young adults, Out of Nowhere (Alfred A. Knopf, New York; softcover; 337 pages; $16.99).
Tom Bouchard, the popular and handsome captain of the high-school soccer team and the story’s narrator, sees prospects for a winning season thanks to four new Somali players — most notably the super-gifted Saeed. But the path isn’t easy as Enniston’s struggles to adjust to its changing culture play out in the hallways of Joshua Chamberlain High.
Padian has a knack for the teenage perspective. Young adult readers will identify with her characters as they confront cyber-bullying, cliques, and family pressures. But it is Padian’s sensitive — and sometimes humorous — depiction of small-town Maine kids and Somali kids earnestly trying to understand each other’s food preferences, customs, and beliefs (check out Ibrahim’s complicated explanation of the rules regarding dogs) that provide the memorable moments in Out of Nowhere.