A Map of Home, Randa Jarrar

I just spent five minutes combing through my “Reference” page trying to figure out where I heard about this book.  I have no idea, but apparently it wasn’t from someone’s website.  I guess I must have just grabbed it off the new books shelf at the library.  A Map of Home is all about a girl called Nidali whose father is Palestinian and her mother is Greek-Egyptian, and they live in Kuwait first, and then Egypt, and then eventually America.  While she is growing up.  It’s a coming-of-age thing.

Really, this book was excellent.  The concept wasn’t the most original one ever, but the execution was superb.  Nidali was a wonderful narrator, giving these little details about her life that made it seem so clear and immediate.  She writes with affection and frustration for her parents, and they are very vivid – not her little brother though, who says virtually nothing throughout the entire book.  He seemed sort of stuck into the book without any real reason.

I thought the end, in particular, was really very good.  And I say this as a particular compliment because I have a hell of a time writing good endings to my stories.  It is hard to wrap up a story, even a story with a more cohesive plot than this one has.  I’m not having a go at the plot, saying that; the book really is interesting, and Nidali grows up, and it works, but it just must be incredibly difficult to come up with an ending to a bildungsroman-type story like this.  A good ending that sums up the book and leaves you feeling satisfied.  But Randa Jarrar not only wrapped up the story in a way that was very moving, but also told a final anecdote that left you feeling that yes, the book was over now.  It didn’t just stop, it ended.