The Map of Salt and Stars
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.It is the summer of 2011, and Nour has just lost her father to cancer. Her mother, a cartographer who creates unusual, hand-painted maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to their family. But the country Nour’s mother once knew is changing, and it isn’t long before protests and shelling threaten their quiet Homs neighborhood. When a 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 as refugees across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety. As their journey becomes more and more challenging, Nour’s idea of home becomes a dream she struggles to remember and a hope she cannot live without.More than eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya, sixteen and a widow’s daughter, knows she must do something to help her impoverished mother. Restless and longing to see the world, she leaves home to seek her fortune. Disguising herself as a boy named Rami, she becomes an apprentice to al-Idrisi, who has been commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the world. In his employ, Rawiya embarks on an epic journey across the Middle East and the north of Africa where she encounters ferocious mythical beasts, epic battles, and real historical figures.

The Map of Salt and Stars Details

TitleThe Map of Salt and Stars
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 1st, 2018
PublisherAtria Books
ISBN-139781501169038
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Contemporary

The Map of Salt and Stars Review

  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    There have been quite a few novels written over the last several years about the refugee experience, mostly how they are trying to manage their new lives in the US. This book was somewhat different with a family moving back to Syria in 2011 after the father dies. This proved to be the worst possible time with a civil war looming and it tells of their harrowing and heartbreaking struggle to find safety. We follow 12 year old Nour and her mother and sisters from New York to Syria to Jordan to Liby There have been quite a few novels written over the last several years about the refugee experience, mostly how they are trying to manage their new lives in the US. This book was somewhat different with a family moving back to Syria in 2011 after the father dies. This proved to be the worst possible time with a civil war looming and it tells of their harrowing and heartbreaking struggle to find safety. We follow 12 year old Nour and her mother and sisters from New York to Syria to Jordan to Libya to Morocco. This is yet another story with dual times alternating Nour’s present day journey with another young girl, Rawiya, 800 years earlier. The second narrative is a story within the story and it represents the beautiful bond that Nour had with her father who told her stories ever night. As with many books with dual story lines, I usually am drawn to one more than the other. I was much more interested in knowing what would happen to Nour and her family than in Rawiya’s adventures. Maybe because of the fantasy elements of the latter story. I was, however, taken with the connections between the stories - the maps, the places, that home is not necessarily defined by a place but by where your family is.There are vivid descriptions of places, things, feelings accentuated by a form of synesthesia that causes Nour to experience these thing by colors. The author provides a view a people, their culture by providing an intimate look at this fictional family. They put more than a face on the images that we see on tv of the plight of Syrian refugees. I don’t pretend to understand what it’s all about or to know what we should do about, but I know that we can’t ignore it . I couldn’t quite give this 5 stars because I wasn’t sure how realistic the ending was. Still, highly recommended.I received an advanced copy of this book from Touchstone/Simon & Schuster through Edelweiss.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    4 colorful and descriptive stars to The Map of Salt and Stars! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ The Syrian civil war and refugee crisis stay in the forefront of my mind most days. I am heartbroken. I am deeply worried. I am listening. The Map of Salt and Stars had me intrigued since I first learned about it. I inhaled this book. Joukhadar’s writing is some of the most lyrical I’ve read. The main character, Nour, has synesthesia and sees colors, and you, the reader, will as well, as a landscape and story are artistically 4 colorful and descriptive stars to The Map of Salt and Stars! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ The Syrian civil war and refugee crisis stay in the forefront of my mind most days. I am heartbroken. I am deeply worried. I am listening. The Map of Salt and Stars had me intrigued since I first learned about it. I inhaled this book. Joukhadar’s writing is some of the most lyrical I’ve read. The main character, Nour, has synesthesia and sees colors, and you, the reader, will as well, as a landscape and story are artistically painted with the most elegant and heartrending brushstrokes. In 2011, Nour’s father passes away, and her mother decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to family. Unfortunately, Nour’s mother could not have predicted the unraveling of her once beloved country and the dire predicament that would await the family once the house is destroyed by a shell. Nour and her family flee to safety, crossing seven countries in the Middle East and Africa. The second narrative takes place over 800 years prior and is about Rawiya, a girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to become an apprentice to a mapmaker. Her journey is epic in proportions and in ways echos that of Nour and her family. Both narratives are about journeys, adventure, heartache, war, darkness, light, and ultimately, family and the search for home. I could read books written in this style of writing all day. Joukhadar had me at the first paragraph when she began describing the “salt” and its symbolism that would feature throughout this stunningly written novel. Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar is an author to watch, and I am hugging my Kindle. Thank you to Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar, Touchstone, and Edelweiss for the ARC. The Map of Salt and Stars is available now!For this and other reviews, please visit my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • Emer
    January 1, 1970
    Bumping this up to five stars because months later the story is still crystal clear in my mind... And I also went out and bought myself a physical edition of this beauty. Definitely among my top reads of 2018.-------Happy book birthday to this wonderful book!!!You know that wonderful feeling when you read the last page of a truly great story and then you clutch the book to your chest as if to hug the world within those pages? That's how I'm feeling right now. I loved this book. It was so simple Bumping this up to five stars because months later the story is still crystal clear in my mind... And I also went out and bought myself a physical edition of this beauty. Definitely among my top reads of 2018.-------Happy book birthday to this wonderful book!!!You know that wonderful feeling when you read the last page of a truly great story and then you clutch the book to your chest as if to hug the world within those pages? That's how I'm feeling right now. I loved this book. It was so simple and honest, laden with the most lyrically beautiful prose, and filled with gloriously human characters whose stories have touched me deeply. The story unfurls through two time periods. In the contemporary setting Syrian-American Nour's life is upended when her beloved father dies and her mother moves the family back to Syria to the city of Homs. 12 year old Nour grieves for her father and deals with that grief by recounting to the earth the story of her and her father's favourite heroine Rawiya and her adventures with the mapmaker Al-Idrisi. Nour hopes that somehow, somewhere in the ground, her father will hear her words and keep alive his spirit. One day soon after the city of Homs is shelled leaving Nour and her family injured and homeless, and so they flee both the city and the country becoming refugees. The book intertwines their journey with that of Rawiya's, and together the two stories bring alive the countries of Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco together with the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the North African coast. Nour's story is a story painted with colour as she has a type of synaesthesia that makes her associate sights and sounds with colour. This truly adds to the vibrancy of the storytelling and makes for an incredibly vivid reading experience. As Syria and Syrian refugees are sadly so often in our newspapers and on our tv screens this story felt even more vital to me. The terrors that the family went through; the losses, the grief, the atrocities that they experienced, were made all the more real because even though Nour and her family are fictional characters these are all genuine experiences of real people today. The relationships that Nour had with her mother, her sisters and her uncle felt so true to me. Her mother was this wonderfully stoic woman. Her commitment to keeping her family alive was incredible to read about and she has become one of my favourite mothering characters that I've ever read about. Huda and Zahra are Nour's two elder sisters and both are polar opposites. Huda is definitely Nour's favourite and the love between the two of them is heartfelt and pure, but Zahra is probably more compelling to read about as there is much more to her than meets the eye. Rawiya's story is set in the twelfth century and it is coloured by fable and legend. The author has brought together entirely fictional characters such as Rawiya with the historical cartographer called Al-Idrisi to create a unique and memorable story. Rawiya disguises herself as a boy and becomes a sort of apprentice / companion to Al-Idrisi and accompanies him on a journey creating maps of the Middle East and North Africa that mirrors the journey that Nour's family are taking. Rawiya's story is filled with mythical creatures, otherworldly magic, crusading battles, great deeds for honour and respect, and is equally as touching as Nour's which I was hugely surprised by as I did not expect to be so moved by a storyline that had elements of the fantastical about it. I loved the evolution of Rawiya throughout the story as she became this fearsome warrior whose battles were fought in a more literal sense than Nour's. Yet somehow the author managed to weave these two disparate stories together, whereby one became an almost echo of the other, and it really set the scene for the reader to give a taster of Arabic culture and to begin to give some indication of what life must be like for those who are refugees and displaced from the place they call home. A truly wonderful read that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves realistic stories AND retellings of old folk tales similar to Arabian Nights. four and a half stars*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Orion, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Hannah Greendale
    January 1, 1970
    For the first time in years, I think of something Mama told me when I was little: that when you make a map, you don’t just paint the world the way it is. You paint your own. Joukhadar alternates between the legendary tale of a girl battling mythological beasts across windswept dunes on her quest to “map the lands of Anatolia, Bilad Ash-Sham, and the eastern Maghreb” and the story of a young Syrian refugee who makes a harrowing journey, alongside her family, in search of a new place to call hom For the first time in years, I think of something Mama told me when I was little: that when you make a map, you don’t just paint the world the way it is. You paint your own. Joukhadar alternates between the legendary tale of a girl battling mythological beasts across windswept dunes on her quest to “map the lands of Anatolia, Bilad Ash-Sham, and the eastern Maghreb” and the story of a young Syrian refugee who makes a harrowing journey, alongside her family, in search of a new place to call home. Though their stories take place 800 years apart, their emotional trials and geographical triumphs overlap, albeit in unsurprising ways. The mythological elements of The Map of Salt and Stars take inspiration from The Thousand and One Nights and are further enhanced by Joukhadar’s inclusion of the real-life scholar and mapmaker, Muhammad Al-Idrisi. The most glorious moments emerge from Nour, the Syrian refugee who experiences the world in colors: the yellow and black bursts of oil and fat sizzling in a pan, the purple taste of tree roots and loam, the ultramarine of flesh chilled to the bone. There’s much to love here, but satisfaction would have been gleaned from a more meaningful connection between the two alternating stories. And while Joukhadar succeeds in conveying the plight of Syrian refugees, Nour is easily forgotten. Perhaps she’s difficult to identify with because of her synesthesia, or maybe it’s that her story starts in New York (her birthplace) then sees her moving to Syria. Since Nour spends only a short time in Syria before leaving, she lacks a deep connection to the place she’s forced to flee, thereby diminishing the sense of loss. With blooms of dazzling prose and its entertaining blend of worlds real and imagined, The Map of Salt and Stars proves a moderately enjoyable debut from a promising new talent. “Stones don’t have to be whole to be lovely,” he says. “Even cracked ones can be polished and set. Small diamonds, if they are clear and well cut, can be more valuable than big ones with impurities. Listen,” he says. “Sometimes the smallest stars shine brightest, no?”
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  • ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
    January 1, 1970
    What kind of magic is this?Q:God smiles through the cracks in broken things. (c)Q:Stories are powerful, but gather too many of the words of others in your heart and they will drown out your own. Remember that... (c)Q:Stones don't have to be whole to be lovely," he says. "Even cracked ones can be polished and set. Small diamonds, if they are clear and well cut, can be more valuable than big ones with impurities. Listen," he says. Sometimes the brightest stars shine brightest, no? (c)Q:I am a woma What kind of magic is this?Q:God smiles through the cracks in broken things. (c)Q:Stories are powerful, but gather too many of the words of others in your heart and they will drown out your own. Remember that... (c)Q:Stones don't have to be whole to be lovely," he says. "Even cracked ones can be polished and set. Small diamonds, if they are clear and well cut, can be more valuable than big ones with impurities. Listen," he says. Sometimes the brightest stars shine brightest, no? (c)Q:I am a woman and a warrior. If you think I can't be both, you've been lied to. (c)Q:“New York?" Itto looks down at me. "You may be American, but you are still Syrian."I rub the camel's coarse hair with my palms. "How?""A person ca be two things at the same time," Itto says. "The land where your parents were born will always be in you. Words survive. Borders are nothing to words and blood.” (c)Q:... once you’ve heard too many voices, you start to forget which one is your own ... (c)Q:Every place you go becomes a part of you (c)Q:The elegant figures of the constellations spun above them, driven by the wheel of the heavens. (c)
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 heartwarming stars Full Disclosure, I chose this book based on its stunning cover, its eye-catching title, and the fact that the synopsis drops in the comparison to The Kite Runner . Set against the backdrop of the unrest in Syria and coupled with a 12th century romance adventure tale, The Map of Salt and Stars certainly sheds light on one family's story as they travel from America after their father's death to Syria, only to find themselves refugees fleeing across Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, 3.5 heartwarming stars Full Disclosure, I chose this book based on its stunning cover, its eye-catching title, and the fact that the synopsis drops in the comparison to The Kite Runner . Set against the backdrop of the unrest in Syria and coupled with a 12th century romance adventure tale, The Map of Salt and Stars certainly sheds light on one family's story as they travel from America after their father's death to Syria, only to find themselves refugees fleeing across Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Morocco. I appreciated the author's source list and information at the back of the book, the writing and characters were absolutely beautiful BUT I didn't find the "story" within the story that interesting. Nour and her family were much more captivating. As well, my mind began to wander around the 60% mark(this really isn't the author's fault, I am having one of those chaotic weeks at work and I think my mind is on other things), I may just re-read this again at some point to compare it to my first impressions. Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Maxwell
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful and heartbreaking story that follows a refugee family in 2011 and an explorer in the 1200s, showing how their lives parallel one another and intertwine across time and space. The motif of the maps and colors were a lovely touch. This was a pretty impressive debut novel, with some amazing quotes in it. I think I'll just leave the rest of the review with some of my favorites."He said one day I'd tell our story back to him. But my words are wild country, and I don't have a map.""Every p A wonderful and heartbreaking story that follows a refugee family in 2011 and an explorer in the 1200s, showing how their lives parallel one another and intertwine across time and space. The motif of the maps and colors were a lovely touch. This was a pretty impressive debut novel, with some amazing quotes in it. I think I'll just leave the rest of the review with some of my favorites."He said one day I'd tell our story back to him. But my words are wild country, and I don't have a map.""Every place you go becomes a part of you. But none more so than home.""God smiles through the cracks in broken things.""Stories are powerful, but gather too many of the words of others in your heart, and they will drown out your own. Remember that.""'Don't forget,' he says, and Abu Sayeed looks up while he translates, holding the words back a little, 'stories ease the pain of living, not dying. People always think dying is going to hurt. But it does not. It's living that hurts us.'"
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  • Kat
    January 1, 1970
    This debut takes us through twelve-year-old Noor’s journey as her family moves from New York to Syria in 2011, then is almost immediately forced to flee Syria once the war begins and her home is destroyed. This book is written in two timelines, present day, and a “fable” timeline from many centuries ago, connected by a love of map-making. The author writes lovely descriptions, especially of the colors, foods and settings. You can taste and see and smell your surroundings beautifully. Trigger war This debut takes us through twelve-year-old Noor’s journey as her family moves from New York to Syria in 2011, then is almost immediately forced to flee Syria once the war begins and her home is destroyed. This book is written in two timelines, present day, and a “fable” timeline from many centuries ago, connected by a love of map-making. The author writes lovely descriptions, especially of the colors, foods and settings. You can taste and see and smell your surroundings beautifully. Trigger warnings: (view spoiler)[ violence, sexual assault, attempted rape (hide spoiler)]Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    “E. M. Forster taught us that ‘fiction is truer than history than history because it goes beyond the evidence.’ Jennifer Zeynab Maccani’s magic first novel is a testimony to that maxim. We’ve all been aware of the plight of Syrian refugees, but in this richly imaginative story we see one small family – both haunted by history and saved by myth – work their west. It’s beautiful and lovely and eye-opening.”
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  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    I am going to admit I had a hard time staying with this book. It was one of the cases where I would read a chapter put the book down to return later. It was not that the writing was poor. Point in fact the writing was amazing, but the story line just could not seem to pull me into that place were time just drifted away as you became enthralled with the book. Perhaps it was because of the two stoy lines that were told or even the fact that as much as I seemed to gain knowledge of the characters, I am going to admit I had a hard time staying with this book. It was one of the cases where I would read a chapter put the book down to return later. It was not that the writing was poor. Point in fact the writing was amazing, but the story line just could not seem to pull me into that place were time just drifted away as you became enthralled with the book. Perhaps it was because of the two stoy lines that were told or even the fact that as much as I seemed to gain knowledge of the characters, I just could not seem to care about them as much as I should.The Syrian War was a terrifying look into what conflict always does. It set people, as war always does, adrift in the miasma of conflict, fleeing to a place where life might return to normal although knowing it never would. The other story took place about a thousand years before this conflict and dealt with a young girl once again trying to find a better life by disguising herself as a boy and joining a cartographer as they try to map the world of their time.As always when a story does not work as one desires there is disappointment. I know there must have been an immense amount of research and time that this author put into writing this historical novel. I only wish I had been able to enjoy her efforts more. Thanks once again goes to my local library and its staff always providing current novels for one to read and borrow.
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  • may ❀
    January 1, 1970
    i finished this book last night in a sobbing mess and i dont know if i'll ever recoverthis book was incredible. it follows two point of views, the first, a young syrian girl (12 years old i think) with synesthesia as she and her family have to escape the awful syrian crisis right after they moved back from america so they would be closer to their family and their culture. the second story takes place hundreds of years ago, following a young girl as she becomes an apprentice to a renowned mapmake i finished this book last night in a sobbing mess and i dont know if i'll ever recoverthis book was incredible. it follows two point of views, the first, a young syrian girl (12 years old i think) with synesthesia as she and her family have to escape the awful syrian crisis right after they moved back from america so they would be closer to their family and their culture. the second story takes place hundreds of years ago, following a young girl as she becomes an apprentice to a renowned mapmaker. they are set to travel the east, mapping out the routes and countriesboth stories are compelling and powerful. joukhadar writes with SO MUCH description and imagery, i've never seen anything like it. the author created an entire world out of words and i am just amazed. my only issues with the book was that i found it a liiiiitle over descript. there were continuous paragraphs dedicated to just setting the scene, everytime they traveled, and i found it took away from the movement of the story (mainly during the very intense scenes)also, i was WAYYYYYY more invested in nour's storyline. there were a couple times when i was so deep and emotionally invested in her story and then we switched over to rawiya and it was kind of jarringbut honestly these are mild complaints bc the essence of this story is so important and i want so many people to read it. this book felt like i was witnessing a documentary with my own eyes. nour, her mother, her sisters, and abu sayeed genuinely felt like real, live, breathing people. this is the story of so many faultless syrian citizens who have suffered in silence these past years. this is the story of those who are too small for news headlines to give notice of. this is the story of a single family amidst the millions that were displaced. this is the story of a modern-day tragedy.
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  • Selena
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free hardback copy of The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar from Goodreads for my honest review. This is a beautifully rich and moving novel. It is a story of two girls that are living eight hundred years apart. A Syrian refugee seeking safety and a adventurer apprenticed to a famous mapmaker It's the summer of 2011, and Nour's father just passed away from cancer. Her mother, a cartographer who creates maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City ba I received a free hardback copy of The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar from Goodreads for my honest review. This is a beautifully rich and moving novel. It is a story of two girls that are living eight hundred years apart. A Syrian refugee seeking safety and a adventurer apprenticed to a famous mapmaker It's the summer of 2011, and Nour's father just passed away from cancer. Her mother, a cartographer who creates maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to their family. But the country Nour's mother knew is not the same anymore. That country is changing, and it isn't long before their home and neighborhood is threatened with war. Nour and her family need to decide if they want to stay and risk possibly getting killed or flee as refugees across several countries to get to safety. More than eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya who is sixteen years old and a widow's daughter, knows she must do something to help her penniless mother. Rawiya disguising herself as a boy named Rami leaves home to find her fortune. She becomes an apprentice to Al-Idrisi, who has been commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the world. Rawiya embarks on an epic journey across the Middle East and North of Africa where she encounters mythical beasts, and many other things.The Map of Salt and Stars follows the journeys of Nour and Rawiya as they travel identical paths across the region but eight hundred years apart.This book is truly a work of art.
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  • Touchstone Books
    January 1, 1970
    It would be impossible to overstate how proud we are to be publishing this gorgeous and important novel. Nour's voice will capture your heart and linger in your mind long after you read the final page. Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar is not only immensely talented, but has a story that needs to be told.
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    This book didn't work for me, but the things I disliked about it probably wouldn't bother a lot of people. I usually have a problem with dual timeline stories because one is generally more compelling than the other. That leaves me liking only half, at most, of a book. In this case, I just couldn't get interested in the fairy tale set 800 years in the past. The author switched between stories in the middle of chapters, which completely destroyed the flow of the story set in the present. The probl This book didn't work for me, but the things I disliked about it probably wouldn't bother a lot of people. I usually have a problem with dual timeline stories because one is generally more compelling than the other. That leaves me liking only half, at most, of a book. In this case, I just couldn't get interested in the fairy tale set 800 years in the past. The author switched between stories in the middle of chapters, which completely destroyed the flow of the story set in the present. The problem was compounded when listening to the audiobook because the narrator never altered her voice or gave any indication when the book had shifted to the other timeline. I gave up on the book after reading 42% of it. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Mel (Epic Reading)
    January 1, 1970
    There are some books where words will never be able to adequately express the power and feelings within it's pages. The Map of Salt and Stars is one of these books. There feels like so much to say about how incredibly emotional this book is; and yet I struggle to find the words. The Set-upSplit into two stories, Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar tells us the story of a girl in the past who overcomes prejudice and hardships to become a great warrior. This story is mythical in that it includes the magical There are some books where words will never be able to adequately express the power and feelings within it's pages. The Map of Salt and Stars is one of these books. There feels like so much to say about how incredibly emotional this book is; and yet I struggle to find the words. The Set-upSplit into two stories, Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar tells us the story of a girl in the past who overcomes prejudice and hardships to become a great warrior. This story is mythical in that it includes the magical Roc and giant snakes(from One Thousand and One Nights stories). At it's core this story is about the journey to map the world and our three travellers who are trying to do so (including our warrior girl). The second story is the one that will break your heart more-so than anything. It is the story of a Syrian family, who lost their husband/father the previous year and so have limited means to survive to begin with. Then their home is bombed to nothing and they fight to cross the borders of four different countries, in perious ways, in order to find some sort of sanctuary. Our Lead GirlThere is always something poignant about hearing a story of destruction and death from the words of a child. Our lead gal is a pre-teen whom has to find her both her inner and outer strength to survive what is to come. This is the plight of a refugee. And one that everyone in a first world country should read. It is a story that will break your heart and also give you hope. Of all the things it will do however is make you feel like you are this little girl. I connected with her in a way I have trouble expressing outloud. Syrian Refugee CrisisThe obvious point of Joukhadar writing The Map of Salt and Stars is to bring awareness of the Syrian people's dire situation. For those of us who live in places where our homes are not at risk of being bombed, where our government (mostly) protects us, and where no one carries machine guns around just because; this may be a hard thing to come to terms with it. One day any one of us could be in a situation where we have nothing and our only hope is aid in a different country. I hope that doesn't happen, but if it does we'd want the support and help from others. So why is it that so many people today (who have means to help) begrudge these destitute people? I believe it to be a lack of understanding. This book definitely gives a better understanding of what it means to lose everything, to have nothing and nowhere to go. OverallIt's always unfortunate that our world has these types of stories. However it is reality. Pretending it doesn't exist or isn't 'our problem' is the wrong attitude; because if the tables were flipped I know each of us would expect aid from those that could. I recommend everyone read this book to gain some perspective and find some new-found compassion within themselves to better understand the circumstances of people. At the end of the day we are all the same; we are all just people trying to survive. For this and more of my reviews please visit my blog at: Epic ReadingPlease note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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  • Libby
    January 1, 1970
    In 'The Map of Salt and Stars' Nour’s father has died. Baba, buried in a hole in Manhatten, feels so lost to Nour that she loses her voice; her words go a journey in the earth trying to find her father. There are tears everywhere, thus the salt. As Zeyn Joukhadar writes about the grief of Nour’s family, salt is the code word for a palpable grief that permeates the air, showing up at every turn. Baba, a bridge builder, and Mama, a mapmaker, had built a secure and loving home for Nour and her two In 'The Map of Salt and Stars' Nour’s father has died. Baba, buried in a hole in Manhatten, feels so lost to Nour that she loses her voice; her words go a journey in the earth trying to find her father. There are tears everywhere, thus the salt. As Zeyn Joukhadar writes about the grief of Nour’s family, salt is the code word for a palpable grief that permeates the air, showing up at every turn. Baba, a bridge builder, and Mama, a mapmaker, had built a secure and loving home for Nour and her two sisters, Huda and Zahra, in New York. Without Baba at its helm, however, Mama wants to return to her homeland in Syria. Nour is a synesthete, a person who translates sounds and smells, and other sensory inputs into colors. This makes for a vibrant sensorial reading experience. Twelve years old, Nour is a perfect narrator. Her innocence and her search for the meaning of life, tragedy, and suffering, all of which seem to be bombarding her family in 2011, create a memorable coming of age tale. Her lack of guile makes Nour a transparent prism, through which Joukhadar focuses the plight of the refugee. A child who hopes for a safe home and the love of family. Baba made sense of the world through the stories he told his daughters. Nour’s favorite story was the one of Rawiya, who leaves home to become the famous cartographer, Al-Idrisi’s apprentice. Disguising herself as a boy, she is able to answer three riddles that Al-Idrisi puts to her, proving her capable intelligence. Commissioned by the Norman King Roger II to provide an accurate map of the known world, Al-Idrisi symbolizes the scientific knowledge lost or unacknowledged by the western world. Rawiya has also lost her father, just like Nour. In Nour’s life, an old friend of her father, Abu-Sayeed will appear as a friend, a father figure, a mentor. In Rawiya’s story come to life, Al-Idrisi will fill this same function. Rawiya’s legendary story will add many levels of meaning to Nour’s story, opening it up in a deeply reflective way. Zeyn Joukhadar parallels the two stories beautifully. For example, Joukhadar follows the account of Nour’s sister Huda in the hospital undergoing surgery with the account of Nour seeing her father’s dead body in the morgue, paralleled with the account of Rawiya saying that she (he) will be able to kill the roc (a monstrous legendary bird capable of carrying an elephant). In linking these accounts, Joukhadar coalesces meanings, creating rich starbursts of relationship and firework epiphanies. The hospital has the smell of sickness, and sometimes, of death, like a morgue. Also, when the roc, or destiny, or fate strikes, we hope someone or something will be able to strike back. In Rawiya’s story, she’s good with a slingshot and aims for the roc’s eyes. What is Joukhadar trying to say? How can we fight destiny, fate, the roc? With a slingshot? Is there a part of us that has good aim, that knows instinctively what to do in these situations? This novel is full of these relationships, that kind of hit us upside the head by getting us to think in a different, non-linear way. I particularly like the visual image of the roc descending on its prey. It doesn’t require complex critical thinking skills to want to protect yourself from a creature like this. Maps and stories are constant themes in ‘The Map of Salt and Stars.’ Nour’s mother paints her map with acrylics. Nour thinks this is stupid because “things change too much. We’ve always got to fix the maps, repaint the borders of ourselves.” It makes me think just how quickly our human landscape changes. Our identities, goals, and personalities fluctuate. Our loves shift, our friends gather or disperse, our borders expand or recede. At times our lives will seem like a dream with whitewashed contours; all the while we are looking for a steadfast map, a certain special stone, a place to sit with a friend, or a story with richly layered meanings that will allow us to sit in the skin of another. This is a story like that.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Touchstone for sending me a copy to review!This novel follows the story lines of two girls, Nour and Rawiya. Nour grew up in present day New York, but after the death of her father her family returned to Syria. Before long, they must flee their home as refugees. Eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya pretends to be a boy so she can be a prominent mapmaker's apprentice. Both girls set off on journeys, each mirroring the other to draw out themes of home, family, and identity.Much of this no Thanks to Touchstone for sending me a copy to review!This novel follows the story lines of two girls, Nour and Rawiya. Nour grew up in present day New York, but after the death of her father her family returned to Syria. Before long, they must flee their home as refugees. Eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya pretends to be a boy so she can be a prominent mapmaker's apprentice. Both girls set off on journeys, each mirroring the other to draw out themes of home, family, and identity.Much of this novel didn't work for me in ways that reminded me of Girls Burn Brighter. Although the characters suffer, the plot mechanisms seemed too simple. The writing felt too saturated, too overbearing: the characters constantly lapsed into profound metaphors that felt forced. In books like these I want to explore the characters' emotions, not be told how to feel. The double narrative also weakened the story for me and Nour's synesthesia just seemed gratuitous.However - you should know that I hemmed and hawed over this review because I don't want to scare anyone away from this book, but I also want to follow my personal reviewing rule of being honest and kind. I've seen some great reviews already that appreciate the rich setting and emotional notes. Sometimes a low rating from me reflects a book's quality, but other times (like now) it's a perfectly fine book that just didn't work for me. So, if this sounds like something that's right up your alley, go for it!
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  • Katie.dorny
    January 1, 1970
    This is a top read of 2018 for me 100%.Rafiwya and Nour are two young women who embark on life changing circumstances.Rafiwya embarks on an adventure to earn her fortune and provide for her family as an apprentice mapmaker whilst disgusting herself as a boy.Nour moves from Manhattan to Syria after her father dies. Her mother makes and sells beautiful maps. The story interweaves both their lives as they reflect one another in modern and historical circumstances.It’s beautifully written, it’s hear This is a top read of 2018 for me 100%.Rafiwya and Nour are two young women who embark on life changing circumstances.Rafiwya embarks on an adventure to earn her fortune and provide for her family as an apprentice mapmaker whilst disgusting herself as a boy.Nour moves from Manhattan to Syria after her father dies. Her mother makes and sells beautiful maps. The story interweaves both their lives as they reflect one another in modern and historical circumstances.It’s beautifully written, it’s heart wrenching, I loved absolutely everything about it.This is one book I cannot recommend enough.I have loved this immensely.
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  • Inderjit Sanghera
    January 1, 1970
    The narrator’s synesthesia suffuses the narrative with a harlequin array of colours; from the purple-hued breath of individuals she comes across to the glittering reflections of sunlight on cerulean sea, ‘The Map of Salt and Stars’ is a novel whose colouration reflects the world-view of Nour, her sense of despondence over the death of her father, her sense of isolation following her family’s re-migration to Syria and the chaos which ensues but, most importantly, her sense of humanity based on th The narrator’s synesthesia suffuses the narrative with a harlequin array of colours; from the purple-hued breath of individuals she comes across to the glittering reflections of sunlight on cerulean sea, ‘The Map of Salt and Stars’ is a novel whose colouration reflects the world-view of Nour, her sense of despondence over the death of her father, her sense of isolation following her family’s re-migration to Syria and the chaos which ensues but, most importantly, her sense of humanity based on the people she meets and loves, from her mother and sister to Abu Sayeed, ‘The Map of Salt and Stars’ is a testament to human fortitude in times of turmoil, simple acts of kindness which redeem the torrents of injustice and cruelty which Nour experiences, the sense of wonder at the beauty of the world, from the stars in the desert sky to the cartography books in the palace of King Roger-‘The Map of Salt and Stars’ is a celebration of human perseverance, just like the diamond which Abu Sayeed bequeaths Nour which she at first views as being a nondescript rock.The story follows the journey of Nour and her family as they return to Syria after living in New York. The timing of their return is, however, unpropitious as they are caught up the Syrian Civil War and what follows is a nightmare journey through the Middle-East and North Africa as the family struggle to find safety. Running parallel to this-often geographically, but always spiritually and thematically, is the story of the young girl Rawiya, who embarks on a quest to explore the world. Both Nour and Rawiya resemble one another; both are disguised as-and mistaken for-boys, both have a drive and determination and sense of bravery which they were hitherto unaware of and both of their lives are, despite the tragedies they experience, enriched by their adventures. The thing which, however, gives meaning to their lives and journeys is the people they meet; as Nour’s mother tells her, the destination is irrelevant, what matters in life is the impact you have on the people you meet and the need to live by your own sense of truth.Joukhadar’s poetic style resonates with the deeply humanistic theme of the book, with the narrator’s synesthesia imbuing the atmosphere with a sense of beauty and uniqueness;“From my chair, I can just see out the kitchen window between the curtains. An oily mist hangs over the alley, and I can’t tell if it’s twilight or dust. It’s gotten too dark to tell colour. I breathe in through my nose again, desperately wishing for the scene of rain.”Sounds vibrate vicariously in the mind of the narrator and are translated into colours of limitless hues, often colours coalesce, whether it be the green-blue crepuscular sky or the yellow-hued desert. More than this, however, the central theme of the book is Joukhadar’s humanistic message about those seeking political asylum after the horrors they experience; in an age where those desperate enough to make this journey are often villified, ‘The Map of Salt and Stars’ demonstrates that they are just people seeking to re-gain a sense of humanity and security where circumstances out of their control have led to their lives being put at risk. Perhaps this should be an obvious message, but it is one which is all too often missed.
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  • Petra
    January 1, 1970
    “The Syria I knew is in me somewhere. And I guess it’s in you too, in its own way.”This book is really beautifully written and I found myself getting emotional a few times while reading. I really appreciate that the writer didn't go into the politics of the situation in Syria and chose to focus instead on the humanitarian aspect. I also liked that some of the historical figures and the places they visit are real.
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  • Janelle • She Reads with Cats
    January 1, 1970
    Many thanks to Touchstone Books for my free copy of MAP OF SALT AND STARS by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar - all opinions are my own.This is a gorgeously written, heartbreaking, and inspiring story. It’s written with a unique perspective, not of a refugee figuring out life in America, but of a family who has to move back to Syria because of a tragic loss. Twelve-year-old Nour was born and raised in New York by two immigrant parents, but after her father dies of cancer, her mother moves her and her s Many thanks to Touchstone Books for my free copy of MAP OF SALT AND STARS by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar - all opinions are my own.This is a gorgeously written, heartbreaking, and inspiring story. It’s written with a unique perspective, not of a refugee figuring out life in America, but of a family who has to move back to Syria because of a tragic loss. Twelve-year-old Nour was born and raised in New York by two immigrant parents, but after her father dies of cancer, her mother moves her and her sisters to Homs, Syria where family can help out. The Syrian civil war is underway and bombs go off in Homs causing the family to flee to safety. Nour copes with the trauma by comforting herself with a story her father used to tell her. We begin to read alternating timelines between Nour and sixteen-year-old Rawiya from 800 years ago. Joukhadar flawlessly weaves the story of Rawiya into the narrative and it’s quite impressive. It’s such a beautiful way to showcase Nour’s bond with her father. This is an exceptional, imaginative, and emotive debut and I loved every part of it.Nour and her family endure harrowing, dangerous circumstances as they seek refuge in Jordan, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria, while Rawiya’s journey is more enchanting. But both of their stories overlap in geographical conquests, emotional anguish, coming of age, and that home isn’t necessarily a place, but is where your family is. The amount of detail in this story is incredible from the book within a book, to the maps, to the synesthesia, to being submersed in the world of a refugee! All so good!! MAP OF SALT AND STARS is extraordinary, intense, and incandescent.
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  • Tania
    January 1, 1970
    The salt breeze pours black water into me. It sinks deep, into a place I can't name, a place I can't chart.3.5 stars. Exquisite writing. I can't remember when last I read such beautiful descriptions. The author definitely has a way with words. She created such vivid, colourful images of all the places portrayed in the story. Nour's synesthesia also makes for very interesting descriptions. I felt deeply for everyone in her family, and the abrupt violence of war as well as the refugee experience a The salt breeze pours black water into me. It sinks deep, into a place I can't name, a place I can't chart.3.5 stars. Exquisite writing. I can't remember when last I read such beautiful descriptions. The author definitely has a way with words. She created such vivid, colourful images of all the places portrayed in the story. Nour's synesthesia also makes for very interesting descriptions. I felt deeply for everyone in her family, and the abrupt violence of war as well as the refugee experience are shared in a nondramatic, unforgettable way. Nothing but survival matters, they live from moment to moment. Heartbreaking with memorable characters. The reason this book did not get a higher rating is because the alternating story about Rawiya just wasn't in the same league as the contemporary narrative. There was no real connection between the two (except for geography), and I found myself skimming though the one so I could get to the other. That said I still highly recommend this debut and can't wait to see what this author does next.The Story: The book follows the story of Nour, a Syrian-American girl living in New York. In 2011, after Nour loses her father to cancer, her mother decides to move the family back to Homs to be close to their extended family. But Nour’s arrival coincides with Syria’s slide into civil war. Amid grotesque violence, Nour is made a refugee, a traveler through Syria’s neighboring lands.Almost a thousand years earlier, another girl’s story unfolds. Rawiya, seeking a better life for her mother, disguises herself as a boy and joins a legendary cartographer on a quest to map the known world
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  • Hiba
    January 1, 1970
    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.This is honestly the most intriguing blurb I've ever read. I need this book so badly now!!!!
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    My last book of 2018!
  • RoseMary Achey
    January 1, 1970
    You cannot read this book without gaining a new respect for Syrian Refugees. In this richly drawn story a contempoary Syrian family is torn apart after their home is destroyed. As the family attempts to escape the violence and leave Syria the reader is given an intimate window to the experience through the voice of a 12 year old girl. Concurrently we travel back to twelfth century as another fatherless girl leaves home to apprentice with cartographer. Her adventures are no less horrowing than o You cannot read this book without gaining a new respect for Syrian Refugees. In this richly drawn story a contempoary Syrian family is torn apart after their home is destroyed. As the family attempts to escape the violence and leave Syria the reader is given an intimate window to the experience through the voice of a 12 year old girl. Concurrently we travel back to twelfth century as another fatherless girl leaves home to apprentice with cartographer. Her adventures are no less horrowing than our contempoary protagonist. While her story is filled with historical context and some mythical creatures, it provides important background and helps the reader understanding an area of the world many of us have limited knowledge. This is a complex and multi-layered novel told in a rich atmospheric voice destine to be one of the most important works of 2018. Coming May 2018.
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  • Tara
    January 1, 1970
    A gorgeous, smart novel that follows 12-year-old Nour through a harrowing journey to find safety after her city is bombed during the Syrian Civil War. I flagged many amazing passages and insightful sentences. Too many to mention. I encourage everyone to read this book to understand the plight of the refugee. Challenge yourself with this important work.
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  • Carol (Reading Ladies)
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. The Map of Salt and Stars is one of the best stories I’ve read this year. This diverse read is filled with poignant themes, unforgettable characters including two inspiring female protagonists, and beautiful writing. See more about why I loved this story by visiting my blog post! https://readingladies.com/2018/08/31/...
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  • luna ☾
    January 1, 1970
    ➳Full review now posted.(This review can also be found on my blog!) “The land where your parents were born will always be in you. Words survive. Borders are nothing to words and blood.” 🌙 🧕—Muslim & Arab Reading Month #1 (this book features Arabs as well as hijabi women)[5/5] Trigger warning: attempted rape, violence, death.Did I finally, finally find the book that seemed to speak to me, rather than just narrate a story?Why yes. Yes I did, and the proof is right there on the dedication p ➳Full review now posted.(This review can also be found on my blog!) “The land where your parents were born will always be in you. Words survive. Borders are nothing to words and blood.” 🌙 🧕—Muslim & Arab Reading Month #1 (this book features Arabs as well as hijabi women)[5/5] Trigger warning: attempted rape, violence, death.Did I finally, finally find the book that seemed to speak to me, rather than just narrate a story?Why yes. Yes I did, and the proof is right there on the dedication page: “For the Syrian people, both in Syria and in diaspora, and for all refugees” The Map of Salt and Stars is about a 12-year-old girl, Nour, who has to move from New York back to Homs, Syria, with her family after the death of her father. Nour has a difficult time adjusting, especially considering that her two elder sisters know Arabic much better than she does. They have memories of Syria, while she doesn’t. All she has to hold on to is the stories of her late father, more specifically, the story of Rawiya. “Everybody knows the story of Rawiya. They just don’t know they know it.” Rawiya is a skilled, ambitious 12th century girl. In search of fame and glory, she decides to leave home, dressed as a boy, to become the apprentice of a map-maker, Al-Idrisi. She also journeys with his other apprentice, Bakr.First of all, let me just say that if I make no sense in this review, that’s because this book has stolen all the words from me. The poignancy and truth it carries is so powerful that I don’t even know how to describe it.I love that this story is told from the point of view of a 12-year-old girl. A 12-year-old girl who has to worry about things like food and hygiene while she’s on the run for her life. She’s supposed to be going to school and making friends and copying homework off her classmates—not getting shot at and shelled. “I would’ve been starting seventh grade soon. I was looking forward to science class, to filling in maps with tectonic plates and making my own battery out of a potato. Do they make batteries out of potatoes in Jordan? Will I have to sell tissues instead?” 🗺️ Nour “People make such beautiful things, I think, even though they destroy so much.” Nour’s description of the places and events was refreshing and vivid; she’s one of those characters who expresses herself with colours. She remembers people’s voices and gives them their very own colours. This is called synaesthesia. She’s also constantly terrified of forgetting her father’s, but her friends and family reassure her that the memories she has with him can never be buried. With all the horrible things and harsh realities that Nour is exposed to on this journey, her mindset slowly starts to shift. She starts worrying more, wondering more about her uncertain future, thinking about her roots and about why someone like her has been targeted when she hasn’t done anything bad at all. “‘Some people get angry. They think we are dangerous. We scare them.’ ‘I didn’t want to scare them,’ I say. I bury my face in Huda’s hijab. ‘I just wanted to come home.’” She learns that people will always be sceptical of refugees, and that they often don’t care about their age or their physical or mental health. All they can see is the face the media shows them—the face of a thief or a killer, when in reality, it’s simply someone who’s lost their home and wants to find their way back. They didn’t have a choice.I think the release of this book came at a perfect timing. With the refugee crisis and the numerous misconceptions going on right now, it’s important that more books start talking about why we need to help instead of push away.Nour also learns that, when wars are involved, innocent people are affected. People who never even wanted any violence, who were living peacefully up until everything they had was ripped away from them. “‘I don’t understand why we were shelled.’ Mama speaks soft like she thinks we’re asleep, like she’s afraid to wake us. Abu Sayeed says nothing at first. The car’s tires hum. The engine clacks and complains. ‘We may never understand,’ he replies, just as quiet. ‘In times like these, it’s the small people who suffer.’” This part just hit close to home so much—not because I’ve been through this, but simply because that’s precisely what’s happening. Look at all these people fleeing into foreign countries, hoping for safety, but getting discriminated against and rejected instead. They can’t go back and they can’t go forward. How horrible must it be?🗺️ Rawiya “‘I am a woman and a warrior,’ Rawiya said, her blade cutting into his club. ‘If you think I can’t be both, you’ve been lied to.’” What can I say about Rawiya that isn’t already obvious from the quote above? She is a queen among queens. She’s skilled with the sling, quick-witted, and adorable as well. She battles soldiers, armies, and mythological creatures, even, and she doesn’t complain once. She loses and she wins and she loves and she hates. She’s a very well-built character and I’m so happy we finally have a strong Arab lead in literature.Rawiya also has a very sweet romance sub-plot and it’s just the purest thing ever!! Lately I’ve been reading a bunch of romances that are more about the feelings between the characters and how these emotions build up, rather than sudden, spontaneous to start kissing or something. It was simple, it was hella cute, and it was easy to follow. Now if only we could have more of those, please.Why I especially loved this historically fictitious bit of the story is because it shows what the Arab world was like before all the wars and the fighting. It’s rich in Arab and African history and culture: Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Ceuta. As a person who’s obsessed with the world, I had so much fun reading this.Speaking of what the Arab world used to be, Nour also continues to learn more about how Syria was from her sisters, Huda and Zahra, who have spent more time there than she has. “‘You should have seen Syria—how it used to be. We used to get fresh green beans and make loubieh bi zeit and rice. We would take out our plates and some folding chairs into the driveway under the chestnut tree. Sitto used to come over, Mama’s clients, everybody. That was Syria to me. The green beans, the sagging folding chairs, the oil on people’s hands.’ I bury my face in my elbow. ‘Now it’s gone.’ ‘But not from us.’ Zahra rubs her thumb across the back of her hand like she’s spreading an invisible oil stain. ‘The Syria I knew is in me somewhere. And I guess it’s in you too, in its own way.’” It’s bittersweet to see the whole family, including family friends—Abu Sayeed—and other strangers they come across on the way—Um Yusuf, Yusuf, Sitt Shadid—join hands to survive. Nour meets many people on her journey, some not even allowed to cross borders because of document complications, like a hakawati; a man whose job is to tell stories. Even his brief appearance impacts her for life.Do I recommend this? Definitely. Do I think this book has enough hype? Nope. I’m a bit shocked why this isn’t as popular as other books, because this is a novel we so desperately need right now. Everyone should read this; it really gives us all some questions and scenarios to think about.-------------------------------------------My "just-finished-the-book" ramble:LOOK MA, I'M IN A NOVEL! (okay, maybe not really, but the rep is excellent.)2018 has been blessed with the release of this book & I could not be happier. This book had me in tears & I am not ashamed to admit that because it means SO MUCH to me adjbsadasjb leave a message at the tone because I am currently unavailable for the next 2673 years.
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  • Skip
    January 1, 1970
    This novel follows the story lines of two young girls, Nour and Rawiya. Nour, raised in present day New York, moves back to Syria with her mother and two sisters, after the death of her father. However, their home in the city of Hom is bombed and they are forced to flee their home as refugees, along with a neighbor. About eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya pretends to be a boy so she can become a prominent mapmaker's apprentice. Their team sets off on a journey, to map the known world, at the b This novel follows the story lines of two young girls, Nour and Rawiya. Nour, raised in present day New York, moves back to Syria with her mother and two sisters, after the death of her father. However, their home in the city of Hom is bombed and they are forced to flee their home as refugees, along with a neighbor. About eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya pretends to be a boy so she can become a prominent mapmaker's apprentice. Their team sets off on a journey, to map the known world, at the behest of the king of Sicily. Rawiya's story has magical elements to it while Nour deals with the modern plight of being an unwanted refugee. While I liked Joukhadar's lyrical writing style at times, I thought it inconsistent and sometimes slow and really did not care for the characters. 2.5 stars, rounded up.
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  • Canadian
    January 1, 1970
    So badly overwritten I was unable to persist beyond a few pages. In those pages, salt stains are said to be everywhere because the narrator’s father has just died—enough tears, basically, to drown any interest I may have had in this book. An overabundance of entirely unnecessary similes and metaphors mar this work from the start. Just too much. Why didn’t an editor take this young author in hand?
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