A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar follows a girl named Nidali, who was born in Boston to a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father. She spent her childhood in Kuwait until it was invaded by Iraq, at which point she and her family made a trek to Egypt and then on to Texas. Nidali struggles through typical adolescent issues - friendships, school, a first love - while also having to deal with moving around and trying to hold onto some semblance of home.
I picked this book up at a used bookstore mostly because I thought the cover looked interesting. I read the synopsis and decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. This is a wonderful story that flows easily and brings humor to some very difficult topics, including war and abuse. Jarrar's development of the characters of Nidali and her parents was detailed and realistic. Even with all of their flaws, I really felt connected to these characters - they seemed like real people. The book actually reads like a journal or memoir rather than the fiction that it is.
If you're looking for something different, I recommend this book. And if Jarrar writes another novel, I will definitely seek it out because I truly enjoyed her writing style. I will mention that there are some rather explicit references to sexual topics. But nothing that takes away from the story.
My Rating: 4/5
Reading group guide and discussion questions for A Map of Home
This review was written based on a copy of A Map of Home that I purchased.