The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
What’s it about?
In the summer of 2011 Nour, her mother, and her two sisters move back to Syria to be closer to family- but Syria is not the same country they left years before. Nour is desperately missing her father- who recently died of cancer. In her grief she begins to tell herself her father's favorite story. The story of Rawiya- a young girl that lived in the 12th century. Rawiya disguises herself as a boy so she can apprentice herself to a mapmaker and see the world. This book alternates between Rawiya’s story and Nour’s story. These are two tales of maps, journeys, and ultimately, how where we come from, and the stories we tell ourselves, shape who we become.
What did it make me think about?
What a timely selection. Syria and the refugee problem has been in the news and yet the plight of refugees can seem so far removed from us. These alternating stories are not only captivating, but they also teach you something about the beauty and history of the Syrian culture.
Should I read it?
If you read to learn something, to broaden your horizons, then this is a great choice. This book is so beautiful- the writing is almost poetic. Nour and Rawiya are characters you really care about. I would highly recommend this book.
"He told Rawiya to be careful of her words. 'Stories are powerful,' he said, 'but gather too many of the words of others in your heart, and they will drown out your own. Remember that.'"
"But safety is not about never having bad things happen to you. It's about knowing that the bad things can't separate us from each other."
If you like this try-
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
The Buried Giant by Kazoo Ishiguro
Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji
Exit West by Moshin Hamid
some favorites of the last decade
best of winter 2020
best of summer/fall 2019
best of winter/spring 2019
best of summer/ fall 2018
best of winter/spring 2017-18
best of spring/summer 2017
best of winter
best of summer 2014
last spring favorites
on my nightstand
edge of your seat
― Charles William Eliot
3 to 4- I found some aspect of this book redeeming but would not recommend it.
5 to 6- I really enjoyed something about this book (characters, plot, meaning etc.) but it was uneven. Some aspects were stronger than others.
7 to 8- It was a good book. I liked lots of aspects of this book. I would recommend it.
9 to 10- I was sorry to turn the last page. I highly recommend this book!