The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar

I love the format of this novel. There are a lot of things to love about it but this is the second time I’ve run across this format and I really love it. The Map of Salt and Stars has two parallel stories. One is about Rawiya in the distant past and the other is about Nour in the present. Each girl embarks on her journey for different reasons and though they hit some of the same spots and have similar obstacles at times, these are far from the same story.
What I find magical about the format and therefore their stories is that Nour gets to draw from the strength of a distant heroine. It’s something I haven’t run into much and I wish I would. It’s one of those things that I love about Lumberjanes and their exclamations that always seem to match the heritage and situation. I don’t know about anyone else, but I could definitely benefit from the lives and stories of women who have undergone similar experiences and do try to find their books.
I love their actual stories and the writing too. Rawiya’s story is fun in that way only old world legends and fantasy can be while Nour’s story is rooted in the grit of the conflicts in the modern Middle East. Nour is much younger and learning to look at the world the way it is and with all the dangers for a young girl that Rawiya already knows. Experiences and realizations about the world stick with her in interesting ways that remind me of when I pieced those things together for myself year ago. The author conveys both the grit of the modern conflicts and the majesty of the legends beautifully. I loved the usage of the colors that Nour sees throughout the story and appreciate that the author didn’t shy away from some of the horrors one can encounter in a war-torn country but also didn’t feel the need to make those experiences too graphic.
This was one of those stories that I read because the title called me like a siren song. I love stories about a journey and with a map in the title, there had to be one. I adored that the map itself played a part in the story. It honestly made me want to create something similar for my family. I feel like that’s it’s own measure of how much I have enjoyed a book. This one hit me in two ways. I want a map of my own like this and I wish I knew more legends or history of women who have traveled similar journeys to draw strength from. I want to give these kinds of stories to my son as well.
Now I just have to figure out how to make a map…..

This is a book I’d recommend to pretty much anyone, but especially lovers of historical fiction. Check it out on Goodreads here or follow this link to just buy it now on Amazon. It’s a great choice for Read Harder Task 18.

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