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Salt Houses


From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family...
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Discuss Salt Houses by Hala Alyan:
While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

Created: 06/05/18

Replies: 17

Posted Jun. 05, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sharonj

Join Date: 01/26/17

Posts: 7

While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

I appreciated how the author, while weaving in the struggles and atrocities of war, developed such real characters and relationships that exist no matter the culture from kids defying their parents to dealing with aging parents and often dementia.


Posted Jun. 05, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeto

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 7

RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

Although this novel covers a period of over 50 years which are dominated by war and conflict for this Palestinian family, the author is masterful in writing it as a single narrative. With each chapter focusing on an individual family member at a specific point in time, she presents the reader with enough detail to weave together the lives of three plus generations. It is a compelling story of memorable characters, unique settings and rich historical context. I look forward to reading whatever comes next for this talented young author.


Posted Jun. 05, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
louisee

Join Date: 06/29/15

Posts: 93

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RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

What stood out for me was when the family learned about Alia's Alzheimer's diagnosis and how each family member reacted and behaved. To me it was a shift in the story. It also showed how everyone learned to live with it. I think it stood out for me because my father had Alzheimer's.


Posted Jun. 06, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scgirl

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 59

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RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

A couple of things stood out for me - first I had never really considered the Palestinian experience. That was an important take away for me. Second, I found significant universal truths in the book. I think if you were to give authors in different countries the family tree, personality types, points of conflict, and crucial moments information from this book and tell them to write a story from their own homeland, it would look somewhat similar. Mostly because we all have universal truths - people are pushed into things they don't want to do (Mustafa) which changes their lives dramatically, someone has lifelong guilt about something (Atef), there are difficult personalities in families (Alia and Souad), there is a stabilizing influence (Salma) and medical issues (Alia) and the children have their own difficulties based on environment and experience (Manar, Linah, and Zain).


Posted Jun. 06, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 259

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RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

What stood out most for me is that as a American by birth, and able to trace my family history here back to the start, I have taken for granted how that much that contributes to my sense of belonging. Like the air that I breathe, it's just there... Yet for so many people in different parts of the world, including newcomers to the US, that sense of belonging is forever uprooted, and it has a devastating impact on them. This novel made me appreciate that.

I agree the author did an amazing job of making this a universal story but with distinct, individual characters, and weaving it all together over a considerable time span, taking on different narrative viewpoints without confusing or overwhelming the reader. It was engrossing and convincing every step of the way.


Posted Jun. 07, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
wandak

Join Date: 04/11/18

Posts: 10

RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

The author did an amazing job of making this a story over several generations. I like great character development in novels and this was done with this book. I enjoyed learning a piece of history


Posted Jun. 08, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paulagb

Join Date: 08/16/17

Posts: 40

RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

I think the depiction of how intensely personal world events can become was very important part of the novel. We often think we know about world events, but to follow a family, even a wealthy family, is very sobering. Many of the youngest generation became Americans, losing much of their separate Palestinian identity. Had they remained in Israel, other parts of the Arab world or even Europe they would be completely different people. The family has huge influence, but so does the country and culture the individuals live in.


Posted Jun. 10, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 312

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RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

I think for me, the point that stood out was the strength of the women. No matter what the issues became, their petty arguments, their moves to different countries, their values, when it came down to each individual character it was their strength that stood out.


Posted Jun. 10, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorothyh

Join Date: 01/23/15

Posts: 124

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RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

The tragedy of war and its effects on the oppressed. Also how the family as a whole deals with Alzheimer's.


Posted Jun. 12, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joycew

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 90

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RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

There were a couple of things. One, is that people get along fine until someone starts a war and two is that personalitys really make a difference how someone reacts in life situations.


Posted Jun. 12, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyb

Join Date: 02/17/18

Posts: 6

RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

This was an interesting family saga. The author gave us characters at different points in their lives, especially the children growing into adults. The reader could see how certain personality traits changed or evolved as the characters aged. This helped to move the story along. I am not convinced that the background political issues of displacement and war were totally integral to the story. They were almost tacked on. If the background was not the Middle East, it could have been Europe during and after World War II, or India after Partition, or any of many other 20th century disruptions. Possibly the background did not resonate with me because of the relative wealth of the family. They landed on their feet wherever they were even if it was not exactly where they wanted to be.


Posted Jun. 13, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
taking.mytime's Gravatar
taking.mytime

Join Date: 03/29/16

Posts: 97

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RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

The authors ability to continually pull this family dynamic together over generations. The traits that lived on through others and each individuals separate outcome.


Posted Jun. 13, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianaps

Join Date: 05/29/15

Posts: 277

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RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

My take-a-way from this book is the education I got on people in a different country. The history, culture and strength of the family members will stay with me for a very long time.


Posted Jun. 14, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
judyw

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 44

RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

The author wrote an amazing first book. We Americans know so little about the history and cultures of the Middle East. She interwove her experiences about various cities in the Middle East in an interesting, thought-provoking novel. Sagas of families reflect the different time periods, the many and continuing conflicts, and explanations in fictionalized form of what the characters felt and thought. I learned so very much unknown to me via Ms. Alyan's portrayal of her "Salt House".


Posted Jun. 23, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
audrey1

Join Date: 09/02/13

Posts: 29

RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

The ability of families, through 4 generations to stay together and in some way come to terms with each other and their changing circumstances in the midst of world events that c ontinued to tear their worlds and each other apart. They complained but somehow they managed to maintain the link that made them who they were and made them strong


Posted Jun. 25, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
leiac

Join Date: 06/25/18

Posts: 1

RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

I am a big fan of intergenerational books so this fit my reading profile well. The author did a great job weaving the individual threads over so many years and in the context of ongoing Middle-eastern strife.
I have friends from that area and it reflected so much that I have come to know of their culture. I will pass my copy on to others in my own family.


Posted Jun. 30, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
vickic

Join Date: 09/15/14

Posts: 35

RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

What stood out most for me was the use of a displaced Palestinian family as the protaganist(s) in this captivating novel. Although I am, of course, familiar with the Palestinian diaspora through reading and watching news it felt so different experiencing it through the characters in the book.


Posted Jul. 29, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
millicentg

Join Date: 03/10/15

Posts: 17

RE: While there are many take aways from reading "Salt Houses" what most stood out to you?

The strength of the family ties through constant physical and emotional upheaval. The image of Salt Houses being created and washed away ...over and over...will stay with me.


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