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A Map of Home

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,188 ratings  ·  200 reviews
Nidali narrates the story of her childhood in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt, and her family’s last flight to Texas, offering a humorous, sharp but loving portrait of an eccentric middle-class family.

Nidali, the rebellious daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, narrates the story of her childhood in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt (to where s
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Other Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I shamelessly endorse my own book!
Apr 25, 2018 marked it as to-read
Like many people, I was appalled by Randa Jarrar's insensitive tweets celebrating the passing of the late Barbara Bush:



This is wrong at so many levels. To start off with, George W. Bush is only a "war criminal" in Professor Jarrar's fertile imagination. Admittedly, the UN never backed the Iraq War, and the weapons of mass destruction turned out not to exist. But ex-President Bush and ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair have said many times that they sincerely believed Saddam had WMDs, and I think we sh
Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : A Map of Home - Nevisande : Randa Jarrar - ISBN : 1590512723 - ISBN13 : 9781590512722 - Dar 304 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2008
Susan Abulhawa
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
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
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 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jason Pettus
Sep 13, 2008 rated it liked it
(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 03, 2011 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
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
Oct 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 22, 2016 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
Kowther Qashou
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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 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.
Nicole Means
Mar 13, 2016 rated it liked it
When I first began reading this book, I was reminded of the connections between Islam and Christianity, and I imagined this story would delve deeper into those connections. As the story unfolds, Nidali, the young narrator, does not seem to care about religion or background, although she is a little perplexed upon seeing her best friend 'cross' herself. Jarrar's introductory chapters remind us that hate is not something we are born with; rather, it is something that arises when someone or somethi ...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Aug 26, 2009 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
Bill Bruno
Randa Jarrar's coming of age novel, A Map of Home, has some interesting elements but is ultimately unspectacular. Like many first novels, this is very autobiographical with the central character, Nidali, being a Palestinian-American born in the U.S. but having a childhood in Kuwait and Egypt before moving back to the U.S. as a teenager.

Because Jarrar had an interesting life, there are sections of the book that reflect that. Her family's flight across Iraq after that country occupied Kuwait was
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
" A Map of Home" was an excellent opportunity for Randa Jarrar to give readers insight into a multicultural family in the Middle East. Instead, she gives us a group of semi-crazy, volatile/violent, and strangely, individually obsessed people. There were a few decent passages, but they were far outshadowed by the unpleasant scenes. Additionally, the writing was uneven and, in several places, the verbiage was completely incorrect - perhaps due to English not being the author's primary language? I' ...more
May 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I picked this up because it was on a list of possible titles for my library's next reading/film series, which will focus on the Middle East. But clearly this book won't make the cut, because I couldn't even finish it.

The top requirement that my fellow librarians and I have for selecting a book is that is have a "you've GOT to read this" quality. You know, the kind of book you can't put down because the storyline has pulled you in and won't let you go.

It's too bad this one didn't have that. I wa
Amanda Anthony
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Randa Jarrar is the author of the critically acclaimed books A Map of Home and Him, Me, Muhammad Ali. She has won the American Book Award, a PEN Oakland, and the Arab American Book Award. 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 a ...more