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Tell Us We're Home

Tell Us We're Home

For Ages: 12 and up
Jaya, Maria, and Lola are just like the other eighth-grade girls in the wealthy suburb of Meadowbrook, New Jersey. They want to go to the spring dance, they love spending time with their best friends after school, sharing frappés and complaining about the other kids. But there’s one big difference: all three are daughters of maids and nannies. And they go to school with the very same kids whose families their mothers work for.

That difference grows even bigger—and more painful—when Jaya’s mother is accused of theft and Jaya’s small, fragile world collapses.

When tensions about immigrants start to erupt, fracturing this perfect, serene suburb, all three girls are tested, as outsiders—and as friends. Each of them must learn to find a place for themselves in a town that barely notices they exist.

Marina Budhos gives us a heartbreaking and eye-opening story of friendship, belonging, and finding the way home.
Choose a format:
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781442421288 | 
  • May 2011 | 
  • Grades 7 and up | 
  • Lexile 780
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Writer Marina Budhos on TELL US WE'RE HOME

Tell Us We're Home by Marina Budhos is a moving and thought-provoking story about the other side of the American dream.

Read an Excerpt

chapter 1

Meadowbrook, New Jersey, looks like it’s right out of an old-time postcard. It has a big town hall, with huge columns and a neat border of red tulips. There’s a quaint little Main Street, its wrought-iron lampposts twined with evergreen sprigs at Christmas; a big green park, where the kids trace ice-skating loops on the frozen pond.

The town is nestled in a valley, and on one side is a steep incline that thrusts up into the ravine, where some of the expensive modern houses are perched like wood and glass boxes. On the other side the larger homes slowly give way to two-family houses and apartments on... see more

About the Author

Marina Budhos
Photograph courtesy of the author

Marina Budhos

Marina Budhos is the author of such books as Ask Me No Questions, Tell Us We're Home, and Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers. She has received an EMMA (Exceptional Merit Media Award) and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award for women writers. Ms. Budhos has been a Fulbright Scholar in India, has given talks throughout the country and abroad, and has taught at several universities and colleges. She is currently an associate professor of English at William Paterson University. She lives with her husband and fellow Atheneum author, Marc Aronson, and their two sons in Maplewood, New Jersey. You can visit her online at


Author Revealed

Q. how did you come to write Tell Us We're Home?

A. Tell Us We're Home came about in a variety of ways. A long time ago I was doing research on nannies and wound up spending time with nannies in the park, or at home, watching and listening to them, watching how they juggled their own children with those they took care of. Soon after I moved to the suburbs--a very strange experience for someone like me, who had grown up and lived in NYC for most of my life. I felt like an immigrant. And then I began to look around and think about the real immigrants in the suburbs. My prior books were about young immigrants but the settings were cities--the traditional place for immigrants. But today, the suburbs are where immigrants come. And so I became fascinated with how young immigrants find their way here, in quintessential American towns. I wondered, too, what it's like in the suburbs, which are often tightly knit and nowadays rely on immigrant women for nannies and housekeepers--what might it be like for their kids? And finally, I wanted to write a girl's friendship novel, no different than other teen friendship novels, but on that offers a slightly different perspective.

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