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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 644

Growing up in a troubled land of Zimbabwe as a young girl, the main character of the novel (Darling) witnessed and experienced first-hand chaos, unrest, violence, and death. She and her family fled to seek a new, better life in America. However, Darling finds that a new land brings new...

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Growing up in a troubled land of Zimbabwe as a young girl, the main character of the novel (Darling) witnessed and experienced first-hand chaos, unrest, violence, and death. She and her family fled to seek a new, better life in America. However, Darling finds that a new land brings new challenges.

This first quote reveals the very raw, real feelings of many immigrants in having to leave a homeland, which provides great perspective for anyone who has not had to do the same:

When things fall apart, the children of the land scurry and scatter like birds escaping a burning sky.

Look at the children of the land leaving in droves, leaving their own land with bleeding wounds on their bodies and shock on their faces and blood in their hearts and hunger in their stomachs and grief in their footsteps. Leaving their mothers and fathers and children behind, leaving their umbilical cords underneath the soil, leaving the bones of their ancestors in the earth, leaving everything that makes them who and what they are, leaving because it is no longer possible to stay. They will never be the same again because you cannot be the same once you leave behind who and what you are, you just cannot be the same.

One immediate hurdle for all immigrants is learning and speaking English, as Bulawayo explains,

The problem with English is this: You usually can't open your mouth and it comes out just like that--first you have to think what you want to say. Then you have to find the words. Then you have to carefully arrange those words in your head. Then you have to say the words quietly to yourself, to make sure you got them okay. And finally, the last step, which is to say the words out loud and have them sound just right.

This is a powerful quote about learning a new language:

Because we were not in our country, we could not use our own languages, and so when we spoke our voices came out bruised.

The author also examines how native English speakers can react to immigrants:

And then the problem with those who speak only English is this: they don't know how to listen; they are busy looking at your falling instead of paying attention to what you are saying.

The book traces Darling's journey as she struggles with feelings of isolation and rejection in America and shares her perspective,

What you will see if you come here where I am standing is the snow. Snow on the leafless trees, snow on the cars, snow on the roads, snow on the yards, snow on the roofs—just snow covering everything like sand. It is as white as clean teeth and it is also very, very cold…coldness that makes like it wants to kill you, like it’s telling you, with its snow, that you should go back to where you came from.

The novel explores the "homeless" feelings of immigrants who struggle to adapt to a new nation while missing their old, desperately yearning to belong in one or the other.

Leaving your country is like dying, and when you come back you are like a ghost returning to earth, roaming around with missing gaze in your eyes.

There are times, though, that no matter how much food I eat, I find the food does nothing for me, like I am hungry for my country and nothing is going to fix that.

This quote references the meaning of the title:

Others with names like myths, names like puzzles, names we had never heard before: Virgilio, Balamugunthan, Faheem, Abdulrahman, Aziz, Baako, Dae-Hyun, Ousmane, Kimatsu. When it was hard to say the many strange names, we called them by their countries.
So how on earth do you do this, Sri Lanka?
Mexico, are you coming or what?

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