THE MAP OF SALT & STARS: A BREATHTAKING VOYAGE THROUGH TIME.

The Map Of Salt And Stars is a breathtaking voyage through time.

Jennifer Joukhadar’s The Map of Salt and Stars is an alternate telling of the stories of two girls, Nour and Rawiya. Nour’s family has to escape Syria during the war and the story follows their journey to safety. Young Nour is anchored by a folk tale about a brave girl her father used to tell her. Rawiya, the heroine of the tale, joins a mapmaker on his twelfth century voyage, disguised as a boy. Nour and Rawiya, although eight hundred years apart take similar journeys, learn the power of courage and find family along the way.

A Map of Salt and stars

What I Liked

My absolute favorite thing about this book is the language. Joukhadar begins each section of the girls’ journey with a poem. Besides that, the writing in this novel is lyrical, demands that you read slowly, savor the experience. Twelve year old Nour is deeply insightful as is much of the dialogue in this book. She listens carefully to the often astute observations other characters in the book make. I deeply enjoyed the relationship between Nour and her sister Huda. Huda is such a nurturer.

Something else I liked was the infusion of colors into descriptions of emotions and sensations. Because Nour has synesthesia, one sense is perceived at the same time, as if by more than one organ. For example, when she hears her mother’s angry voice, she literally sees the color red. The ocean on her skin, brings the color blue to her eyes. To Nour, every letter of the alphabet has it’s distinct color. This facet of her character brings a whole new level of lyricism to her narration.

There is a refreshing focus on nature and the outdoors which makes me want to see the Sahara and sleep outdoors on a starry night. Yet, the conditions Nour and her family have to endure on their voyage are far from merely exotic. Joukhadar paints an unnerving picture of refugee living and the things people lose in their quest to escape war zones. Still, as readers will find, these characters do not wallow in self pity, they are soothed by faith, love and the story of Rawiya.

Most of the minor characters in this book, no matter how short the time spent with them is, are memorable. Especially so for me are Nour’s mother, Abu Sayeed and Khaldun.

Anyone who's interested in Middle Eastern history, the Syrian refugee crisis or who simply loves good writing and/or a great story should read The Map of Salt and Stars. Click To Tweet

In Summary

Joukhadar has created a mesmerizing, sometimes fantastical story that is simultaneously important and escapist. Rawiya’s journey with Al-Idrisi, the mapmaker, a character based on a real human, is a dazzling folk tale. By means of The Map of Salt and Stars, the author presents Syrian culture, showing us a side of the country we do not see often. I was more drawn in by Nour’s story but I recognize the role that Rawiya’s tale plays in the book.

Anyone who’s interested in Middle Eastern history, the Syrian refugee crisis or who simply loves good writing and/or a great story should read The Map of Salt and Stars. It’s been compared to Hosseini’s ‘The Kite Runner’ but I really do not see the similarity. The novel stands on its own. The Map of Salt and Stars is rich in history, full of rhythm and compelling, without a doubt.

The Map of Salt and Stars by @JenniferZeynab is rich in history, full of rhythm and compelling, without a doubt. @TouchstoneBooks Click To Tweet

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I received an AdvanceĀ  Reader’s Copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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