Shellie (Layers of Thought)'s Reviews > A Map of Home: A Novel

A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar
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Aug 26, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: award-winners, country-middle-east, blog-reviews, element-strong-or-dark-female-chara, read-in-2009, war-middle-east
Recommended for: those who want to understand Middle Eastern culture
Read in November, 2009



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 mother and a Palestinian father Nidale’s roots are as complex and ethnically diverse as the middle east itself. When the family moves back to Kuwait in the volatile 80’s from American, they will eventually be forced to leave again. Eventually they will immigrate back to America, confusing and complicating the question of where exactly is home?

Here is a quote which sums the title up of A Map of Home. After leaving Kuwait, Nidali has drawn a map of Palestine while sitting at the family table while talking with her father:

“You still remember that?” I nodded and looked at the map nervously, hesitant about whether I’d drawn it right. I pointed at the western border and asked, “Is that right?” “Who knows,” he said, waving his hand dismissively …

“What do you mean, Baba when you say ‘who knows’?”

“Oh habibti. That map is from a certain year. The maps that came earlier looked different. And the ones that come after, ever more different.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean… there’s no telling. There’s no telling where home starts and where it ends.”

Hilarious and thought provoking A Map of Home is a down to earth insight into the complexities of middle eastern cultures. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a mostly lighthearted view on difficult and often misunderstood subjects – war and who are our middle Eastern neighbors.
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Reading Progress

10/08 page 80
26.32% "a sweet story of defining one's identity from a middle Eastern perspective"
11/04 page 200
65.79% "A great perspective on the Middle East - breaking down stereotypes about their diverse culture."
11/13 page 230
75.66% 1 comment
01/23 marked as: read
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