Book Review for THE MAP OF SALT AND STARS by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
THE MAP OF SALT AND STARS by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
☕ ☕ ☕ ☕ ☕
My Highly Caffeinated Thought: A beautiful, authentic, and emotional tale paralleling the lives of two girls separated by hundreds of years.
THE MAP OF SALT AND STARS is a book I rarely come across. The author enchanted with her storytelling all the while deeply affecting me with the frankness and, at times, grittiness of the situations the characters are thrust into. This book is true a gift to readers.
There are so many things I can say about this story. The eloquence and craft in the writing make it so easy to become lost within the pages. Having both Nour and Rawiya follow the same path many years apart brought a depth and richness to the narrative. Going back and forth between these two strong, endearing girls as they grow, learn, and realize what the world is truly like was so amazing.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how timely a book shedding light on Syrian refugees and their struggles is. We are in a precarious place in our history. There are those looking for sanctuary, but being turned away. This is not an easy journey for them. THE MAP OF SALT AND STARS highlights this struggle not by preaching, but by showing the human side to the issue.
I have a lot of love for this book. The author is definitely a voice to pay attention to.
Reviewer Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This rich, moving, and lyrical debut novel is to Syria what The Kite Runner was to Afghanistan; the story of two girls living eight hundred years apart—a modern-day Syrian refugee seeking safety and a medieval adventurer apprenticed to a legendary mapmaker—places today’s headlines in the sweep of history, where the pain of exile and the triumph of courage echo again and again.
In the summer of 2011, just after Nour loses her father to cancer, her mother moves Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to their family. In order to keep her father’s spirit as she adjusts to her new home, Nour tells herself their favorite story—the tale of Rawiya, a twelfth-century girl who disguised herself as a boy in order to apprentice herself to a famous mapmaker.
But the Syria Nour’s parents knew is changing, and it isn’t long before the war reaches their quiet Homs neighborhood. When a stray shell destroys Nour’s house and almost takes her life, she and her family are forced to choose: stay and risk more violence or flee across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety—along the very route Rawiya and her mapmaker took eight hundred years before in their quest to chart the world. As Nour’s family decides to take the risk, their journey becomes more and more dangerous, until they face a choice that could mean the family will be separated forever.
Following alternating timelines and a pair of unforgettable heroines coming of age in perilous times, The Map of Salt and Stars is the epic story of one girl telling herself the legend of another and learning that, if you listen to your own voice, some things can never be lost.
About the Author: Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar is a Syrian American author. Originally from New York City, Jennifer was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother. She is a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) and of American Mensa. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Saturday Evening Post, PANK Magazine, Mizna, and elsewhere. Jennifer is a 2017-2020 Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Program Literary Arts Fellow and an alum of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA) and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net.
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Touchstone (May 1, 2018)
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