Book Review – The Map of Salt and Stars

Zeyn Joukhadar – 4/5 Stars

Read this if you:
· strive to better understand the experiences of other people
· are inspired by people who make incredible sacrifices to help others
· enjoy a modern storyline with a historical retelling alongside it

In the summer of 2011, after losing her father to cancer, Nour and her family move from New York City to Syria to be closer to their relatives. It isn’t long before they start to notice changes in their Homs neighbourhood and one day, a shell destroys their home and almost takes their lives. Nour’s mother decides that they will make the dangerous journey across several countries through the Middle East and North Africa in order to reach safety.
Along their journey, Nour recalls the story of Rawiya who, 800 years earlier, set off disguised as a boy named Rami to become an apprentice to mapmaker al-Idrisi who was commission by King Roger to create a map of the world. This undertaking leads Rawiya along an identical path to Nour’s, those hers is filled with mythical creatures and dangerous battles.

My thoughts on the book: 
This book was so beautifully written and at times the story was so heartbreaking. Although this book was a lot different from what I usually would choose to read, I felt as though it was one that I needed to read. I loved reading about Nour and her family and their journey to Ceuta. Their love for each other and the lengths they went to to take care of each other were inspiring, despite all of the hardships they experienced that put them in that position.
I didn’t love the historical story that was being told alongside Nour’s. I thought the story of Rawiya and her friends dragged on a little bit and although I thought it was interesting that both girls were travelling along the same route, I could have done without this additional storyline.
I loved the inclusion of maps for each country that Nour visited but I would have loved to have seen a “big-picture” one showing both hers and Rawiya’s routes. I found I was looking up how far apart certain destinations were throughout the story and it really gave me an appreciation for how long and treacherous the journey was.

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