This book was written differently from anything else I’ve read before; there are two narratives & two timelines, but both are a full story in themselves & both hooked me in completely. Some parts of A Map of Salt & Stars aren’t easy to read, but the book is very honest & tells two very important stories, both of which are based on fact.
I was sent this book by Orion Publishing in return for an honest review.
This book contains scenes of war including bombings & death, as well as human suffering & an attempted rape scene.
I am so ill & have no idea how to start this review!!!
A Map of Salt & Stars was brilliant; it was so captivating & subtly & quietly broke my heart repeatedly. This gorgeous book tells two stories – one about a young Syrian-American & the devastation her family face after they move back to Syria when her father dies. The other story is about a young girl who disguises herself as a young boy in order to travel with a well-known map-maker. Both stories could be in their own book – neither tale loses anything from it because it’s sewn next to another, instead the stories support & compliment each other throughout.
Okay, so I will admit that I struggled with the layout of The Map of Salt & Stars when I first started reading it, but blame that on the fact that I was only able to read one chapter at a time when I first started the book (I was reading for a short time before bed on work nights) – when I managed to sit down & properly get my head into these stories I was able to seriously enjoy them. I would advise that you only pick up this book when you’re able to really give it your full attention for at least an hour or two or MORE – because once I was able to do that I couldn’t stop thinking about The Map of Salt & Stars whenever I wasn’t reading it.
I like books that tell stories like the two in The Map of Salt & Stars because they teach me things – Nour, our Syrian-American protag, has a very important & very timely story to tell – we’ve all seen Syria on the news, but I think stories like this one (alongside true accounts of course) help to remind us that what we see on TV is real. My heart broke 100 times over for Nour & her family, & some of the things she has to face make for very hard reading. I couldn’t help but feel emotional when reading Nour’s segments because my brain wouldn’t let me forget that children & young people really do have to deal with the things Nour does. And that’s heartbreaking. I appreciated Nour’s story for it’s honesty & the lessons it taught me; her story may be fiction, but it’s also very, very real & it’s impossible to forget that when reading it.
Rawiya’s story is also based on fact, but is historical-fiction rather than happening-right-now-fiction, with a little bit of fantasy thrown in; Rawiya’s tale is based on the true story of a once-upon-a-time map-maker, Al Idrisi that travelled around the world to create a map of the world for Sicilian King Roger II. In Rawiya’s story she faces mythical beings that I had never heard of before, but also faces the more real threats of boarder patrols, war-related feuds & the general problems with travelling through some of the hottest places on Earth. I loved how original Rawiya’s story felt; this story taught me about things that I had absolutely no idea about at all, & despite it’s fantasy traits, it felt just as real to me a Nour’s story.
Although it took some time for me to get used to the alternating timelines & characters, I fell deeply in love with Jennifer’s writing & her stories; The Map of Salt & Stars tells two remarkable tales that are written with so much grace & care, making it impossible not to get attached. Both Nour & Rawiya settled firmly within my heart during this read & I’ll definitely be reading their stories again.
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