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The Map of Salt and Stars

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  10,178 ratings  ·  1,726 reviews
It is the summer of 2011, and Nour has just lost her father to cancer. Her mother, a cartographer who creates unusual, hand-painted maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to their family. But the country Nour’s mother once knew is changing, and it isn’t long before protests and shelling threaten their quiet Homs neighborhoo ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Atria Books
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Zeyn Joukhadar Hey there! Though I wrote the book for an adult audience, teens have embraced the book and it's often been described as a crossover for both teens and…moreHey there! Though I wrote the book for an adult audience, teens have embraced the book and it's often been described as a crossover for both teens and adults. There are, of course, discussions of displacement, loss, and violence (including sexual violence), but none of it is depicted in an overly graphic way, and I took particular care not to sensationalize violence against bodies of color. Parental/guardian or teacher guidance might be best for younger teens.(less)

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Angela M
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it

There have been quite a few novels written over the last several years about the refugee experience, mostly how they are trying to manage their new lives in the US. This book was somewhat different with a family moving back to Syria in 2011 after the father dies. This proved to be the worst possible time with a civil war looming and it tells of their harrowing and heartbreaking struggle to find safety. We follow 12 year old Nour and her mother and sisters from New York to Syria to Jordan to Liby
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 colorful and descriptive stars to The Map of Salt and Stars! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The Syrian civil war and refugee crisis stay in the forefront of my mind most days. I am heartbroken. I am deeply worried. I am listening.

The Map of Salt and Stars had me intrigued since I first learned about it. I inhaled this book. Joukhadar’s writing is some of the most lyrical I’ve read. The main character, Nour, has synesthesia and sees colors, and you, the reader, will as well, as a landscape and story are artistic
Emer (A Little Haze)
Bumping this up to five stars because months later the story is still crystal clear in my mind... And I also went out and bought myself a physical edition of this beauty. Definitely among my top reads of 2018.


Happy book birthday to this wonderful book!!!

You know that wonderful feeling when you read the last page of a truly great story and then you clutch the book to your chest as if to hug the world within those pages? That's how I'm feeling right now. I loved this book. It was so simple
Hannah Greendale
For the first time in years, I think of something Mama told me when I was little: that when you make a map, you don’t just paint the world the way it is. You paint your own.
Joukhadar alternates between the legendary tale of a girl battling mythological beasts across windswept dunes on her quest to “map the lands of Anatolia, Bilad Ash-Sham, and the eastern Maghreb” and the story of a young Syrian refugee who makes a harrowing journey, alongside her family, in search of a new place to call h
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
What kind of magic is this?

God smiles through the cracks in broken things. (c)
Stories are powerful, but gather too many of the words of others in your heart and they will drown out your own. Remember that... (c)
Stones don't have to be whole to be lovely," he says. "Even cracked ones can be polished and set. Small diamonds, if they are clear and well cut, can be more valuable than big ones with impurities. Listen," he says. Sometimes the brightest stars shine brightest, no? (c)
I am a woma
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
3.5 heartwarming stars

Full Disclosure, I chose this book based on its stunning cover, its eye-catching title, and the fact that the synopsis drops in the comparison to The Kite Runner . Set against the backdrop of the unrest in Syria and coupled with a 12th century romance adventure tale, The Map of Salt and Stars certainly sheds light on one family's story as they travel from America after their father's death to Syria, only to find themselves refugees fleeing across Jordan, Egypt, Algeria,
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-it, 2018
A wonderful and heartbreaking story that follows a refugee family in 2011 and an explorer in the 1200s, showing how their lives parallel one another and intertwine across time and space. The motif of the maps and colors were a lovely touch. This was a pretty impressive debut novel, with some amazing quotes in it. I think I'll just leave the rest of the review with some of my favorites.

"He said one day I'd tell our story back to him. But my words are wild country, and I don't have a map."

"Every p
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
I am going to admit I had a hard time staying with this book. It was one of the cases where I would read a chapter put the book down to return later. It was not that the writing was poor. Point in fact the writing was amazing, but the story line just could not seem to pull me into that place were time just drifted away as you became enthralled with the book. Perhaps it was because of the two stoy lines that were told or even the fact that as much as I seemed to gain knowledge of the characters, ...more
may ❀
i finished this book last night in a sobbing mess and i dont know if i'll ever recover

this book was incredible. it follows two point of views, the first, a young syrian girl (12 years old i think) with synesthesia as she and her family have to escape the awful syrian crisis right after they moved back from america so they would be closer to their family and their culture.

the second story takes place hundreds of years ago, following a young girl as she becomes an apprentice to a renowned mapmake
May 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book didn't work for me, but the things I disliked about it probably wouldn't bother a lot of people. I usually have a problem with dual timeline stories because one is generally more compelling than the other. That leaves me liking only half, at most, of a book. In this case, I just couldn't get interested in the fairy tale set 800 years in the past. The author switched between stories in the middle of chapters, which completely destroyed the flow of the story set in the present. The probl ...more
Jun 24, 2018 added it
Shelves: library-2
This debut takes us through twelve-year-old Noor’s journey as her family moves from New York to Syria in 2011, then is almost immediately forced to flee Syria once the war begins and her home is destroyed. This book is written in two timelines, present day, and a “fable” timeline from many centuries ago, connected by a love of map-making.

The author writes lovely descriptions, especially of the colors, foods and settings. You can taste and see and smell your surroundings beautifully.

Trigger war
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“E. M. Forster taught us that ‘fiction is truer than history than history because it goes beyond the evidence.’ Jennifer Zeynab Maccani’s magic first novel is a testimony to that maxim. We’ve all been aware of the plight of Syrian refugees, but in this richly imaginative story we see one small family – both haunted by history and saved by myth – work their west. It’s beautiful and lovely and eye-opening.”
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received a free hardback copy of The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar from Goodreads for my honest review.

This is a beautifully rich and moving novel. It is a story of two girls that are living eight hundred years apart. A Syrian refugee seeking safety and a adventurer apprenticed to a famous mapmaker

It's the summer of 2011, and Nour's father just passed away from cancer. Her mother, a cartographer who creates maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City ba
Touchstone Books
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It would be impossible to overstate how proud we are to be publishing this gorgeous and important novel. Nour's voice will capture your heart and linger in your mind long after you read the final page. Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar is not only immensely talented, but has a story that needs to be told.
Nadine Jones
Don’t forget ... stories ease the pain of living, not dying. People always think dying is going to hurt, but it doesn’t. It’s living that hurts us.

This book is not for me. This is one of those books that you love for its lyrical language and the aching beauty and sorrow of the story. I’m not that reader. I had no patience with (or love for) all the intricate detail described in every scene.


The booming is thunder in my bones. The room gets real still, only the beetles twitching at
Mel (Epic Reading)
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are some books where words will never be able to adequately express the power and feelings within it's pages. The Map of Salt and Stars is one of these books. There feels like so much to say about how incredibly emotional this book is; and yet I struggle to find the words.

The Set-up
Split into two stories, Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar tells us the story of a girl in the past who overcomes prejudice and hardships to become a great warrior. This story is mythical in that it includes the magical
May 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, read-in-2018
Thanks to Touchstone for sending me a copy to review!

This novel follows the story lines of two girls, Nour and Rawiya. Nour grew up in present day New York, but after the death of her father her family returned to Syria. Before long, they must flee their home as refugees. Eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya pretends to be a boy so she can be a prominent mapmaker's apprentice. Both girls set off on journeys, each mirroring the other to draw out themes of home, family, and identity.

Much of this no
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This is a top read of 2018 for me 100%.

Rafiwya and Nour are two young women who embark on life changing circumstances.

Rafiwya embarks on an adventure to earn her fortune and provide for her family as an apprentice mapmaker whilst disgusting herself as a boy.

Nour moves from Manhattan to Syria after her father dies. Her mother makes and sells beautiful maps.

The story interweaves both their lives as they reflect one another in modern and historical circumstances.
It’s beautifully written, it’s hear
In 'The Map of Salt and Stars' Nour’s father has died. Baba, buried in a hole in Manhatten, feels so lost to Nour that she loses her voice; her words go a journey in the earth trying to find her father. There are tears everywhere, thus the salt. As Zeyn Joukhadar writes about the grief of Nour’s family, salt is the code word for a palpable grief that permeates the air, showing up at every turn. Baba, a bridge builder, and Mama, a mapmaker, had built a secure and loving home for Nour and her two ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The narrator’s synesthesia suffuses the narrative with a harlequin array of colours; from the purple-hued breath of individuals she comes across to the glittering reflections of sunlight on cerulean sea, ‘The Map of Salt and Stars’ is a novel whose colouration reflects the world-view of Nour, her sense of despondence over the death of her father, her sense of isolation following her family’s re-migration to Syria and the chaos which ensues but, most importantly, her sense of humanity based on th ...more
Janelle Janson
Many thanks to Touchstone Books for my free copy of MAP OF SALT AND STARS by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar - all opinions are my own.

This is a gorgeously written, heartbreaking, and inspiring story. It’s written with a unique perspective, not of a refugee figuring out life in America, but of a family who has to move back to Syria because of a tragic loss. Twelve-year-old Nour was born and raised in New York by two immigrant parents, but after her father dies of cancer, her mother moves her and her s
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“The Syria I knew is in me somewhere. And I guess it’s in you too, in its own way.”

This book is really beautifully written and I found myself getting emotional a few times while reading. I really appreciate that the writer didn't go into the politics of the situation in Syria and chose to focus instead on the humanitarian aspect. I also liked that some of the historical figures and the places they visit are real.

Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Very atmospheric, lovely writing style.
The story is about Nour who has to flee Syria with her family. It's also the legend of Rawiya, who has many similarities with Nour. Fantastic debut.
Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction
Type: Standalone
POV: First & third person POV

After a tragedy befell her family, Nour’s mother moved her children from New York back to her mother’s homeland in Syria. But the move that’s supposed to unite her family, threw them into chaos when civil unrest escalated. Thus began their perilous journey across countries in search of safety, mirroring the one taken by Rawiya, the heroine of her favorite story who taken the paths 800 years earlier.

The salt breeze pours black water into me. It sinks deep, into a place I can't name, a place I can't chart.

3.5 stars. Exquisite writing. I can't remember when last I read such beautiful descriptions. The author definitely has a way with words. She created such vivid, colourful images of all the places portrayed in the story. Nour's synesthesia also makes for very interesting descriptions. I felt deeply for everyone in her family, and the abrupt violence of war as well as the refugee experience a
Jun 24, 2018 marked it as to-read
This rich, moving, and lyrical debut novel is to Syria what The Kite Runner was to Afghanistan; the story of two girls living eight hundred years apart—a modern-day Syrian refugee seeking safety and a medieval adventurer apprenticed to a legendary mapmaker—places today’s headlines in the sweep of history, where the pain of exile and the triumph of courage echo again and again.

This is honestly the most intriguing blurb I've ever read. I need this book so badly now!!!!
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous, smart novel that follows 12-year-old Nour through a harrowing journey to find safety after her city is bombed during the Syrian Civil War. I flagged many amazing passages and insightful sentences. Too many to mention. I encourage everyone to read this book to understand the plight of the refugee. Challenge yourself with this important work.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have not yet found the map to my words...when I do I will share them with you
Stephanie Anze
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
". . . stories ease the pain of living, not dying. People think dying is going to hurt. But it does not. It's the living that hurts."

Five stars for a thoughful and lyrical book!

When Nour's father dies from cancer, her mother makes the choice to move the family from New York back to Syria. Nour, her two older sisters and her mother return to their home country to be closer to family but their timing is far from ideal. War breaks out in Syria and their house is hit and destroyed. They are forced t
RoseMary Achey
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You cannot read this book without gaining a new respect for Syrian Refugees. In this richly drawn story a contempoary Syrian family is torn apart after their home is destroyed. As the family attempts to escape the violence and leave Syria the reader is given an intimate window to the experience through the voice of a 12 year old girl.

Concurrently we travel back to twelfth century as another fatherless girl leaves home to apprentice with cartographer. Her adventures are no less horrowing than o
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You'll love this ...: January 2020 - The Map of Salt and Stars 75 50 Jan 31, 2020 11:34PM  
Week 4: Character Development 1 6 Oct 20, 2019 08:54PM  
Week 2: Storytelling 1 9 Oct 05, 2019 05:46PM  
Play Book Tag: [horizons] the map of salt & stars | Zeyn Joukhadar | 4 stars 3 12 Aug 01, 2019 03:02PM  

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Zeyn Joukhadar is the author of the novels The Map of Salt and Stars (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2018) and The Thirty Names of Night (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2020), a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI), and a member of American Mensa. His work has appeared in Salon, The Paris Review Daily, The Kenyon Review, The Saturday Evening Post, PANK Magazine, and elsewhere, and has been ...more

Articles featuring this book

"I wanted to explore the stories we tell ourselves when we are in pain. Particularly for those of us who have experienced severe trauma, can our st...
34 likes · 3 comments
“Don't forget,' he says, and Abu Sayeed looks up while he translates, holding the words back a little, '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.” 31 likes
“I am a woman and a warrior. If you think I can't be both, you've been lied to.” 26 likes
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