Sunday, November 1, 2009

Review: A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar

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 she and her family fled the 1990 Iraqi invasion), and her family's last flight to Texas. Nidali mixes humor with a sharp, loving portrait of an eccentric middle-class family, and this perspective keeps her buoyant through the hardships she encounters: the humiliation of going through a checkpoint on a visit to her father's home in the West Bank; the fights with her father, who wants her to become a famous professor and stay away from boys; the end of her childhood as Iraq invades Kuwait on her thirteenth birthday; and the scare she gives her family when she runs away from home.

Funny, charming, and heartbreaking, A Map of Home is the kind of book Tristram Shandy or Huck Finn would have narrated had they been born Egyptian-Palestinian and female in the 1970s.

Received from the publisher for review.

I found the book interesting, but not overwhelmingly fabulous. The story itself was good, but by the nature of the names, I found them rather distracting and that detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

This one gets three stars. It was nicely written, with a cultural perspective that was quite intriguing to read about. The characters were a bit outside my zone of likability, but were nonetheless engaging.

★★☆☆ = Liked It


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