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The Map of Salt and Stars

Narrated by: Lara Sawalha
Length: 12 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (455 ratings)

Regular price: $22.67

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Publisher's Summary

This rich, moving, and lyrical debut novel is to Syria what The Kite Runner was to Afghanistan; the story of two girls living 800 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. 

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 neighborhood. When a shell destroys Nour's house and almost takes her life, she and her family are forced to choose: stay and risk more violence or flee as refugees across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety. As their journey becomes more and more challenging, Nour's idea of home becomes a dream she struggles to remember and a hope she cannot live without. 

More than 800 years earlier, Rawiya, 16 and a widow's daughter, knows she must do something to help her impoverished mother. Restless and longing to see the world, she leaves home to seek her fortune. Disguising herself as a boy named Rami, she becomes an apprentice to al-Idrisi, who has been commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the world. In his employ, Rawiya embarks on an epic journey across the Middle East and the north of Africa, where she encounters ferocious mythical beasts, epic battles, and real historical figures. 

A deep immersion into the richly varied cultures of the Middle East and North Africa, The Map of Salt and Stars follows the journeys of Nour and Rawiya as they travel along identical paths across the region 800 years apart, braving the unknown beside their companions as they are pulled by the promise of reaching home at last. 

©2018 Zeynab Joukhadar. All rights reserved. (P)2018 Orion Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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An Amazing Audible Experience

This beauty of the author’s writing was fully realized in the mellifluous reading by the performer. This is a rare combination.

The only way the experience could be improved is a view of Al-Idrisi’s original map. If you purchase the hardcover book in addition, the map is printed (unrotated) with some English labels of essential towns on the journeys (both ancient and modern) around the Medierranean Sea from Syria to Ceuta. This is a book worth rereading and giving as a gift so both the Audible and hardcover versions are worthy of purchase.

Al-Idrisi’s 1154 geographical map, however, is a multifaceted symbol of different ways of reading and discussing this book. This is an accessible book for a Western reader with a fascinating narrative and belived characters. Meanwhile the reader can learn about the history of this region and even the history of cities with a Greco-Roman past.

The universal message for humanity is the essential reason that I will recommend it to my Book Group and want to lead the discussion. It deserves to be a classic with themes such as journeys, the importance of family, bravery overcoming obstacles, hospitality to strangers, and coming home.

The Map of Salt and Stars is a significant book to potentially help unite our hearts in these troubled times.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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exquisite

I couldn't stop listening! The narrator was so believable as the protagonist that it seemed to be her own story. The story itself was perfectly wrought with rich and fragrant details. A truly satisfying listen with depth and gravity.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Bittersweet timely novel

I don’t know if I could have read this in print, but what beautiful language intertwining allegory with present day hreartbreak of Middle East violence. The plight of war torn Syria and tumultuous Middle East not only illustrates the effects of the conflicts, but also shows us human nature of good and evil and the struggles of those families to survive insurmountable odds. These are the lucky ones who actually find refuge and reunite. Very good narration that made it easier to blend both stories.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Poetic tale. Sensory descriptions tickle the mind

Loved it. anxious to return each time I had to pause. the reader was exceptional.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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WAY To long

Supposed to be like the Kite Runner. Not even close. Two intertwined stories. One taking place 800 yrs ago that is Marvel comic book in nature. The other a story of Syrian escape. Shortly into it I cranked up the speed enjoyed the white noise of a wonderful reader for a story I quickly grew bored with trying to care about.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Astonishingly beautiful

I was nervous about this book because I didn’t want to be too drawn in to the atrocities of the Syrian civil war. And yes, parts of the story are horrifying, just like war. But so much of it is incredibly beautiful and meaningful. The author weaves the story of a young refugee girl with the story of a heroine on a quest to map the world. The way the two stories are woven together helps one absorb the horrible parts in their entirety while allowing one to also be captured by the book’s magic. I can not recommend this enough.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Beautiful story

Beautiful story but may be better if two separate narrators were used for the two story lines.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Eye-opening debut

Two beautifully intertwined stories and one of my favorite reads of the year. Parallel stories of two girls, 800 years apart, and their courageous journeys.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful imagery!

The style of writing was refreshingly descriptive and a pleasure to listen to. The narration was done very well and helped me keep the two interwoven storylines straight. The stories were a good counter-balance to each other. This was a unique and beautiful read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Grounded in reality yet connected with fiction

Great story told even more beautifully. The Map of Salt and Stars looks at unfortunate ground reality for people having leave everything behind in the face of war. This story if very nicely told and once you start listening it is hard to stop.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful