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A Map of Home: A Novel Paperback – August 25, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Jarrar's sparkling debut about an audacious Muslim girl growing up in Kuwait, Egypt and Texas is intimate, perceptive and very, very funny. Nidali Ammar is born in Boston to a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father, and moves to Kuwait at a very young age, staying there until she's 13, when Iraq invades. A younger brother is born in Kuwait, rounding out a family of complex citizenships. During the occupation, the family flees to Alexandria in a wacky caravan, bribing soldiers along the way with whiskey and silk ties. But they don't stay long in Egypt, and after the war, Nidali's father finds work in Texas. At first, Nidali is disappointed to learn that feeling rootless doesn't make her an outsider in the States, and soon it turns out the precocious and endearing Arab chick isn't very different from other American girls, a reality that only her father may find difficult to accept. Jarrar explores familiar adolescent ground—stifling parental expectations, precarious friendships, sensuality and first love—but her exhilarating voice and flawless timing make this a standout. (Sept.)
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Ah, eccentric families. In Jarrar’s first novel, the lovable Ammars are talkative, argumentative, and so alive they practically burst off the page. At the center of the story is Nidali, daughter of a Palestinian father and a Greek Egyptian (piano-playing) mother. Born in Boston, her childhood is spent first in Kuwait and then, when her family is forced to flee during the Gulf War, Egypt and eventually Houston. Permeated by Nidali’s yearning to understand her identity—particularly her Palestinian roots—Nidali is an astute observer, and Jarrar’s novel could be her diary. Unfortunately, this means we have to accompany her through a somewhat painful adolescence, along with a forbidden first romance with the pleasantly sarcastic Fakhr, and later the loss of her virginity to a Houstonian. Some of the sex scenes are so explicit, they are unnerving, but Jarrar is sophisticated and deft, and her impressive debut is especially intriguing considering her clever use of recent Middle East history. --Emily Cook --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.