the next good book

The Map Of Salt And Stars

By Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar


352 pages

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.
Quote- “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.”

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