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A Map of Home

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  931 Ratings  ·  174 Reviews
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“A coming-of-age story that’s both singular and universal–an outstanding debut.”
–Kirkus Reviews *Starred Review*
“Jarrar's sparkling debut about an audacious Muslim girl growing up in Kuwait, Egypt and Texas is intimate, perceptive and very, very funny…Jarrar explores familiar adolescent ground–stifling parental expectations, precarious friendships, sensuality and
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sep 23, 2008 Randa rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I shamelessly endorse my own book!
Susan Abulhawa
Sep 15, 2015 Susan Abulhawa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Palestinian coming of age story in Kuwait. Beautifully written, touching, sweet, honest, and very human. I loved every minute I spent reading it.
Dec 24, 2008 Karima rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I REALLY enjoyed this book. It is HONEST and RAW and RIPE. Love the expletives the characters use like:
"May the caves they live in be their eternal dwellings!"
"Sons of Whores!"
and some other good ones that I am too embarrassed to write.
The dialogue is like bullets flying:
When 12 year old Nidali (the narrator of this story)asks her mother for another glass of water, her mother replies,"Drink your spit."
When the family is forced to leave Kuwait(1990) because it has been invaded by Iraq, Nidali wr
Mar 08, 2016 tee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that, in my darkest moments, the fight for more representation in literature (especially those books that could pass as YA/are directed at young adults) seems futile to me.

Then I read a book like A Map of Home .

While it's important to note that this book is one of the first I've read with a young bi Arab-American woman at the center of it's narrative, I have to say that what really resonated with me were the geographies that Nidali inhabited at some point or another throughout
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

(UPDATE, DECEMBER 2008: I heard today from this book's author, Randa Jarrar, who wanted to make a clarification: that not all of her three college degrees are related to writing, but rather with one being in Middle Eastern Studies and a second in the general Liberal Arts. My apologies for the error.)

Dec 27, 2016 sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is nothing like my life and everything like my life and also like my ghost life and i cried at the end, a deep cry, and also i think this book is saving my life. read it. it's perfect.
This book tells the story of a girl, Nidali, growing up in Kuwait during the time before and during the Iraqi invasion, eventually fleeing to Egypt and the US. This book was just okay for me. I felt sometimes that the writing seemed a little forced. I've generally appreciated the perspective of coming of age stories, when stories are told from the point of view of a young person, however I didn't really enjoy it in this book. I think its because the narrator is so spunky and strong and independe ...more
Oct 18, 2008 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The figurative language and images in this novel are simply breathtaking. There are so many creative surprises and literary pleasure along the way--switching to a second person voice in one chapter, incorporating hilarious compositions in another, referring to Hemingway's story "Hills Like White Elephants" with the title of Chapter Eight, "Tanks Like Green Elephants." The turn of each page brought some other delightful twist.

The characters in "A Map of Home" are memorable, larger than life, and
Sandy D.
I've read a lot of memoirs about the Middle East, but this one was unique. The author's humor, her incredible use of language (including bad language!), and her ambition and love for life really made reading it a joy. I hope she writes a lot more books.
Dec 03, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am in love with this book! I know I could have finished it in a few days, but I really wanted to read it slowly and enjoy it. I picked this book up at our book sale last year, and I was in the mood for something honest and ripe. Wow, did I find it in this novel. Nidali Ammar is born to an Egyptian mother and Palestinian father in the great city of Boston in the 1970s. The first chapter was hilarious as Nidali's father is convinced he has sired a son and decides to name the baby "My Struggle," ...more
Sep 07, 2008 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. It is a great example, along with Junot Diaz’s writing, of how the voice of a narrator can make you fall in love with a character and what she might have to say before the story really even begins. It is a bildungsroman, starring Nidali, a spunky charismatic firecracker of a girl, who is born in Chicago, grows up in Kuwait and then after war displaces her, moves to Egypt, and then after more difficulties moves to Texas.

I can’t tell you how many times this book had me laughing m
Loved it. So funny and raw and irreverent and smart and whimsical.
Review to come!

Here the review:

Like many a classic coming-of-age or fictional autobiography, A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar begins with the birth of the heroine. What you don’t usually see, though, is a screaming match in an American hospital in Arabic between the mother and father after a disagreement about the baby’s name. If you don’t know any Arabic words, this is an interesting introduction by the main character Nidali’s moth
I adored this book. It was a moving, gripping, and phenomenal tale of growing up as a bisexual woman in the middle east and the description was so rich and gorgeous that I was loathe to see it end. The main character was wonderful, and her struggles were so interesting and relatable. The themes of identity and belonging transcend cultures and make me excited for the next offering by this author.

The only bad part was the last 50 pages. Once they move to America, the writing style lost its gorgeou
Kowther Qashou
Feb 14, 2016 Kowther Qashou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this novel. It is a prime example of why it is essential for Palestinians, as well as Arabs, to tell our own stories. It is a brilliant coming-of-age novel, it is honest, raw, and very easy to relate to. It isn't overly dramatised either, so it isn't filled with many cliches but it still maintains its humour element. I hope to read more books like this in the future.
Aug 12, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copy
"Rare is the book that makes one stay up to finish it; this is one of them, simultaneously circling in its family dramas and
spiralling outwards in its connections to history and place. Adult and teen readers alike would enjoy Nidali’s honest portrayal..." ( review).

Author interview.
Heeba Haider
Jan 21, 2016 Heeba Haider rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. Not everyone will be able to connect to it completely, but I sure did. It is perfectly written and I would definitely recommend it to people. I sure did wish that Fakhr and Nidali would end up together. Really hoping that a sequel would be on the way.
Oct 15, 2015 Iria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Papei a novela dun bocado. Encantoume.
Iso si, eu quitaría todos os "puta", "fillo de puta", etc. a modo de insulto, claro.
Sep 03, 2008 Katherine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newer-fiction
After reading C(h)ristine's glowing review of this book, I feel like a grinch for having given it only two stars, but I am going to stand by my rating.

First, the good stuff: this book is a female coming-of-age novel (a genre I'm especially interested in, though maybe my special interest leads me to be unfairly extra-demanding of them), is definitely competently written, and it maintains a pretty standard tone throughout; that is, there aren't any wildly bad parts or ill-conceived characters or l
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Aug 26, 2009 Shellie (Layers of Thought) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want to understand Middle Eastern culture

In this wonderful, humorous, and powerful story - Nidali is a strong teen caught between self discovery, and the constraints of war within a culture where women are subjected to very confining roles. The story opens with her “Baba” hoping for a the birth of a boy, due to his awareness of the difficulties facing women in Kuwait. In doing so he accidently names her Nidal. When realizing she is a girl, he adds an i creating Nidali, the narrator’s name.

Born in America from an Egyptian and Greek mot
Apr 30, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is laugh-out-loud funny, while telling an entertaining and sometimes moving story of an Arab family's 17-year journey from America to Kuwait to Egypt and back to America again. During that time, its narrator Nidali grows from her arrival as a newborn at a hospital in Boston to her departure from home for college. Hers is a tightly-knit family, her father Palestinian and her mother Egyptian. From beginning to end there are stormy scenes between parents and between parents and children. ...more
Sarah B.
Hmmm. I wanted to like this book, and it's about subjects I am drawn to (such as girls' lives, the Middle East, having crazy parents, living through political upheaval, emigrating to Texas, and being boy-crazy). However, I found it difficult to engage with this book, mostly because there is very little tension in Jarrar's writing. The only crisis in the book was that the main character, Nidali, is coming of age. Other than that, the story was simply a series of anecdotes, with no story arc, no c ...more
Sep 03, 2012 Nadia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that's kind of hard to sell. Like you look at the summary and can easily think "do I really need to read another coming of age story about a kid whose background coincidentally matches the author's" cause honestly I sure as hell normally don't have much interest in reading those but in this case: yes, yes you do. Randa Jarrar is one of those writers that could read the phonebook to you and somehow make the whole thing riveting and funny and make you want to devour it c ...more
Aug 22, 2016 Adriana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't care for this book too much. I just thought that it didn't go in depth enough about what was going on in Palestine. It read more like juvenile entries in a home journal which I know was kind of intentional since Nidali was the narrator. Also, I didn't care for the language. I thought Nidali and her father were so disrespectful to each other and just in general with the amount of profanities they used. I just didn't think the book was well thought out enough. I prefer writers like Amy Ta ...more
Amanda Anthony
Jul 08, 2014 Amanda Anthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 - Not 5 because it got a little aimless in the middle. I've noticed that since I've moved abroad I'm much more interested in stories that feature people being away from home for a long period of time, being in second homes, or being forced from their homes. This book was a fantastic read - the narrator's voice is funny and frank, and I loved her discovery of self. Her description of her loss of home and finding home was really powerful. But she was genuinely funny. I wondered if it was semi- ...more
Dec 24, 2008 Danika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I'm sure everyone on the bus was wondering why I laughed out loud so much. It's a riotous story of a rebellious teenage girl- following her from Kuwait to Egypt to Texas. Yet another great coming of age story. The interactions between Nidali and her parents are priceless. I did get a little tired of the abusive dad, but still well worth a read. Look forward to more from this emerging author.
Mar 05, 2009 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have been happier if this book had been about less - a more closely examined section of life rather than birth to college in 275 pages. I liked the rebelliousness of the narrator, Nadali- her spunk and her wisdom. Her trip to the West Bank for her grandfather's funeral, the family's exodus across Iran during the first Gulf War are very finely written and will linger. Other parts of the novel - not so much.
Dec 04, 2016 Miranda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I really appreciated this book's honesty, especially when it came to sex. Being a "coming of age book", I think A Map of Home followed an extremely well-written path. Even though a lot of awful things happen in this book, it still felt light-hearted and made me laugh often--a weird combination.
Aug 21, 2016 Begoña rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sensacional viaxe cara á procura da propia identidade no medio dun contexto persoal mestizo, patriarcal e historicamente virulento. Gratificante ler a Jarrar reivindicándose como unha escritora sen límites a reinventar a creación literaria árabe moderna.
Oct 09, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Now this was a good time. I'd read a bit about the author and the book at, and it sounded like just the thing I needed--funny, vibrant, poignant, and otherwise just delicious. I loved Jarrar's style and wit.
Holly S. Warah
Oct 12, 2010 Holly S. Warah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Contemporary, upbeat take on the Arab-American experience. An enjoyable book. Lovely prose & insightful descriptions of cultural/generational clashes in the Arabian Gulf, Egypt & Texas. Very Funny!
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Randa Jarrar is the author of the critically acclaimed novel A Map of Home, which won a Hopwood Award, an Arab-American Book Award, and was translated into six languages. Her work has appeared in The Oxford American, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, Guernica, Utne, and the Sun, and she was selected for Beirut39, which celebrates the 39 most gifted writers of Arab origin under age 40. She teache ...more
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