The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
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 Roc and giant snakes(from One Thousand and One Nights stories). At it's core this story is about the journey to map the world and our three travellers who are trying to do so (including our warrior girl).
The second story is the one that will break your heart more-so than anything. It is the story of a Syrian family, who lost their husband/father the previous year and so have limited means to survive to begin with. Then their home is bombed to nothing and they fight to cross the borders of four different countries, in perious ways, in order to find some sort of sanctuary.
Our Lead Girl
There is always something poignant about hearing a story of destruction and death from the words of a child. Our lead gal is a pre-teen whom has to find her both her inner and outer strength to survive what is to come. This is the plight of a refugee. And one that everyone in a first world country should read. It is a story that will break your heart and also give you hope. Of all the things it will do however is make you feel like you are this little girl. I connected with her in a way I have trouble expressing outloud.
Syrian Refugee Crisis
The obvious point of Joukhadar writing The Map of Salt and Stars is to bring awareness of the Syrian people's dire situation. For those of us who live in places where our homes are not at risk of being bombed, where our government (mostly) protects us, and where no one carries machine guns around just because; this may be a hard thing to come to terms with it. One day any one of us could be in a situation where we have nothing and our only hope is aid in a different country. I hope that doesn't happen, but if it does we'd want the support and help from others. So why is it that so many people today (who have means to help) begrudge these destitute people?
I believe it to be a lack of understanding. This book definitely gives a better understanding of what it means to lose everything, to have nothing and nowhere to go.
It's always unfortunate that our world has these types of stories. However it is reality. Pretending it doesn't exist or isn't 'our problem' is the wrong attitude; because if the tables were flipped I know each of us would expect aid from those that could.
I recommend everyone read this book to gain some perspective and find some new-found compassion within themselves to better understand the circumstances of people. At the end of the day we are all the same; we are all just people trying to survive.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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