Called “rich and multidimensional” by School Library Journal in a starred review, Out of Nowhere follows Tom Bouchard: captain and star of the Enniston High School 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 seeking a better life after their country is destroyed by war. 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. The refugees 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.
"Out of Nowhere" received the 2014 Maine Literary Award and the 2014 Lupine Award from the Maine Library Association. It was selected as a Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year 2014 and a Capitol Choices 2014 Noteworthy Book for Teens. To date it has been included on six state book award lists: Connecticut, Missouri, Rhode Island, Maryland, Vermont and Georgia.
Hardcover edition, released 2013.
Random House has created an Educator Guide linking "Outcasts United" with "Out of Nowhere."
Reviews and Praise for "Out of Nowhere"
From The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review, March 2013:
«Padian, Maria Out of Nowhere. Knopf, 2013 [352p]
Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-96580-7 $19.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-375-86580-0 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-375-89610-1 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 8-12
Soccer star Tom Bouchard is a decent enough kid to assist the occasional newcomer stranded in his high school’s hallway, but he’s never given much thought to the struggles of the Somali immigrants that have recently made their way to his small Maine town until he finds himself forced to tutor young immigrants at an overcrowded community center.
Meanwhile, Tom’s new Somali team members—led by the awesome Saeed—shift the team’s second-rate play into a higher gear, and dangle the tantalizing prospect of finally whomping top-ranked Maquoit. Dismiss any notion that this is one of those sports jealousy tales in which a displaced star seethes over his new rival. The real focus here is on the dynamics of a small Maine community that is, frankly, overwhelmed by the needs of its new residents, and on the struggles of the immigrants—many traumatized by war—to carve a life in America while remaining true to their religion and customs. Padian has a keen eye for the everyday pettiness of high school life that can touch off unexpected
consequences: a soccer mom gets the halal menu just right for the team supper but then neglects to lock up the “unclean” pet dog; an ambitious Maquoit father prompts an investigation into the true ages of the Somali players; viral texting by a jealous girlfriend causes such shame to a Somali girl that her family must leave town. With complex national issues solidly grounded in a thoroughly credible plot, this could be an outstanding vehicle for classroom and book club discussions. EB
From School Library Journal, starred review, March 2013:
«PADIAN, Maria. Out of Nowhere. 338p. Knopf. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86580-0; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96580-7; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-375-89610-1. LC 2012005653.
Gr 9 Up–Tom Bouchard’s small Maine hometown has become a key secondary migration location for Somali immigrants, and the local high school is overwhelmed with helping these students adjust to their new surroundings. As captain of the soccer team, Tom follows his instincts and recruits a Somali player, cashing in on Saeed’s talents and unique playing style. In the wake of a racially charged incident on their home turf, the team goes on to beat their crosstown rival, sparking racist reactions both from the opposition and local authorities. To classify Out of Nowhere as a sports story sells it short. Soccer is certainly an element, with a fair amount of play-by-play action (and standard locker-room language), but the novel is rich and multidimensional, addressing the Muslim experience in America, addiction, and romance. Tom is an authentic narrator who deals out life-changing empathy.–Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL
From Publishers Weekly, Dec. 10, 2012:
The influx of Somali refugees into a small Maine town proves eye-opening for senior soccer captain Tom Bouchard. Between the language barriers and unfamiliar Muslim traditions and customs, this "secondary migration" has brought tension, uneasiness, and confusion to his high school and community. Meanwhile, Tom's friend Donnie persuades him to deface a wealthy rival soccer team's property; when caught, Tom is sentenced to community service: tutoring Somalis. There, he develops a crush on a college girl and receives an education about Somali culture, which gives him a new perspective on both his history and his future. Padian (Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best) impressively handles many plot threads at once: Tom befriends Somali soccer player Saeed, questions his loyalty to Donnie and his relationship with his girlfriend, and frets over the approaching state soccer tournament. The author gracefully explores the intersections between culture and religion, as well as suspicion and prejudice in a post-9/11 world. Her well-formed characters and realistic circumstances make for a large and powerful story about re-evaluating one's beliefs. Ages 12--up. Agent: Edite Kroll, Edite Kroll Literary Agency. (Feb.)
From Kirkus Reviews, Dec. 15, 2012:
When Somali refugees move to his Maine town, a soccer captain matures in this Chris Crutcher-reminiscent drama based on a true event. High school senior Tom Bouchard is comfortable in the middle. He's uncomfortable with both his racist, working-class uncle and his anti-racist, college-educated aunt. He likes the Somali kids on his soccer team but doesn't mind that his hot girlfriend is a bigot. As more and more immigrants populate Enniston, rising tensions force Tom to pick sides. Richer towns, alarmed at the amazing soccer players among Enniston's Somali immigrants, challenge the eligibility of star player Saeed. The concerns of locals--ranging from outright racism to worries about an infrastructure collapsing under the influx of English language learners--lead to taunts, fights and worse. Highlighting this tension (with an unexpected subtlety, compared to Tom's tendency to explain facts about Somalia he learned on Wikipedia) are the French last names of almost all of Enniston's white residents, grandchildren of Québecois once beaten in school for speaking French. Tom is a complex enough character to carry the heavy weight of racism, classism, sexism, culture shock and Islamophobia that comprise his story, with a believably encouraging coming-of-age. Still, the Somalis are here for Tom's education--as Tom's father says to him, "aren't you lucky? Knowing all these stories"--not for their own sake. Pair this novel with one from an immigrant's viewpoint, such as Marina Budhos' Tell Us We're Home (2010). An encouraging, if incomplete, tale of high school sports in the melting pot. (Fiction. 13-16)