Book Musings: The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

After two weeks of flipping few pages every night before going to sleep, I finally was able to finish this astounding book written by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar. This is a story of Nour, an American-Syrian girl whose life went off the loop after her father died of cancer in America and moved back to Syria. 

The book also tells alternately the story of Rawiya, about the same age as Nour, that happened eight hundred years earlier on her quest to conquer, explore and map the world. 

I always say that I’m not a hard -core reviewer of books, I’m more of a perspective reader. Getting lost into the story and imbibing the course of life of the characters. For the nth time I’ve proven that literary characters have greater power to change us than real people do. After reading this book, Nour will be with me for a little while. 

This book will immerse you deeply into the rich cultural milieu of the Arabian nations. At the same time enrich you historically as you journey with Rawiya and Id- al-Idrisi, who was commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the world. 

To be honest, I kept googling the places I get to read on this book. And I realized I may know the country as it was taught in my Geography class but taking into the details the cities, the legends, the culture, the people I sure have too little a knowledge of the Arabian Peninsula. I may also have read a lot of stories on papers and on social media about the plights of refugees, but this book has brought me deep into the perspective of those innocent people who want to live in peace but were forced to change the course of their lives because of the greed of others. Why bomb and destroy lives? I can only ask.

The war in Syria truly has changed the way we looked at this part of the world, moreso to the people, like Nour her family and the people she made friends along the way on her journey to safety. Narratives of people like them made me think why qualitative research is as important as quantitative. You get to have stories.

And to the take my most favoured line in the book, “stories ease the pain of living, not dying. People always think dying is going to hurt. But it does not. It’s living that hurts us.” I can't agree more.

This book is lyrical, musical, beautifully told and exquisitely researched. There’s so much more to than just Nour and Rawiya on this story. Every character has its own story to tell. 

Thanks a lot, Jennifer for sharing this book to the world. Start reading today!

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