Not Logged in.
Book Jacket

Salt Houses


From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family...
Summary and Reviews
Excerpt
Reading Guide

Discuss Salt Houses by Hala Alyan:
What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Created: 05/25/18

Replies: 28

Posted May. 25, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1584

Expert

What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Souad tells her children that home is "somewhere familiar, somewhere people look like us, talk like us, where you guys can learn Arabic and be near your grandparents and never come home asking what raghead means." What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?


Posted Jun. 03, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
brendaw

Join Date: 11/29/17

Posts: 5

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

To me “home” is where my family is. The structure where the family lives is only housing my family. I have lived in many different places, but if my family is with me, that is home.


Posted Jun. 03, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ColoradoGirl

Join Date: 05/16/16

Posts: 34

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

I agree with you brendaw, home to me means where my family is -- that being said, I've never had to flee my country so I could definitely see the yearning to go back to what's familiar and where extended family might be living.

I think many of the characters tried to make other places their home, but never felt completely at ease and happy.


Posted Jun. 03, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 172

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Home is the place of security and love we share with family and/or friends. It is not the building we dwell in, it is the relationships we share. One can move from house to house, and none of them may be "home." One, or more houses, can be "home" if shared with the right people. I've never been forced from a home so I don't feel the sense of loss this family felt toward their past homes.


Posted Jun. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paulagb

Join Date: 08/16/17

Posts: 39

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

The quote almost defines homeland rather than home place. As we move into a smaller world with greater displacement there will be fewer with the homogeneous idea of homeland. Americans, in most parts of the country, are used to seeing all colors, religions and types of people. People who are forcibly uprooted from a homeland where everyone looks alike, speaks the same language and has the same religion define their home differently. The forced change creates anger and resentment understandably. Although the family struggled because they lost their homeland, they maintained family ties and will realize that is truly having a home.


Posted Jun. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sandeo

Join Date: 04/17/11

Posts: 21

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

I believe that "home" is where your culture is and where your memories are. Your family may have died or fled the area. Still the memories remain. This is also repository of the culture. Nothing changes these two truths.


Posted Jun. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeh

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 165

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

I, too, believe home is where your family is. It would be terrifically difficult to be uprooted from a country where you have lived for many generations and start over again, but if you have the support of your family (however your "family" is configured), then the path is so much easier. This is why I feel immigrants bring such a rich resource of empathy to our communities when they relocate. They deeply appreciate what our country offers, and sometimes it's easy for us to forget how fortunate we are. Their success and happiness reminds us of how we are who we are.


Posted Jun. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mary louf

Join Date: 06/04/18

Posts: 3

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

I think home is where your family is. The characters in this book seemed to find a way to stay togrpether as much as possible. There is no way we can identify with people having to flee their homeland through no fault of their own but staying together makes it easier.


Posted Jun. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
irisf

Join Date: 01/16/12

Posts: 100

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Home isn’t just a place and it isn’t just four walls. Home is a place where you are surrounded by those you love and by the people who love you.


Posted Jun. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
wandak

Join Date: 04/11/18

Posts: 8

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?h

Home is where your heart is. I feel we can move but we may still be rooted in another place. I agree that family is home but there are many definitions of family. Being comfortable and feeling safe are also feelings of home. These characters were unsafe and felt fear in a place they use to call home


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

Join Date: 06/04/18

Posts: 3

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Even though being surrounded by your family, I think it would be comforting to have a stable country to live in.


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

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 311

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Home is where your family and your heart is. It is more than a house, it is your memories and your background. It is a place where you feel the love and where you feel safe. It is interesting that this book deals with home, just as the last book "Music of the Ghosts" also dealt with home. That book was about having escaped from Cambodia, being forced to leave the homeland. Both books seem to indicate that "Home" is also our country and our culture.


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

Join Date: 06/29/15

Posts: 91

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Home is where my family is and where my heart is so my home is in more than 1 location. My mom is still living in the home I grew up in and my family (husband and sons) is living in our home. I think the characters were happiest and most at home when they were all together.


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

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 40

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

While I agree with other responders about home being where family is - family is very displaced now. We have family in Baltimore, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Hampshire and New York. Which one is home? For our children, it might be where their parents are - South Carolina, for their children perhaps where they live currently or where their parents are...

So while the characters in the book may have a "favorite living space" home, I suspect like most of us, home is indeed where the parents are.


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

Join Date: 06/04/18

Posts: 3

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

i think where you are comfortable and secure and loved iswhere your home is, whether it be a building, tent or whatever. People who have to flee their country need the security of their family.


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

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 7

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

I think most people yearn for home as a place of security, acceptance and permanance. I thought the author dealt with this concept effectively when Atef reflects on the cemetery in Boston that Karam describes for him where "full centuries of family are bured in the same dirt". This is so far from what Atef's family has experienced since the forced removal from Jaffa. Nablus, Amman, Kuwait, and even Beirut. For the Palestinians there is no longer even the dream of a homeland. For me, the book offered new insight and understanding of this situation.


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

Join Date: 01/05/12

Posts: 59

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Your heritage and your family are home, where you built your memories and your childhood. when you are
abruptly uprooted because of war or politics it can cause resentment and stress. The human has the ability
to adapt and accept what it can not change. Manar after years of longing decides to go to Jerusalem, Nablus and Jaffa looking for a feeling of recognition with her ancestor and feeling none until she gets to Jaffa and feels
the cold water of the Mediterranean ocean on her feet. Her home however is in Manhattan with Gabe and the
baby to come.


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

Join Date: 01/23/15

Posts: 113

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Home is where the family is, not the structure.


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

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 229

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

I don't think "home" is where your family is, I think it is bigger than that, in ways we may not recognize when we are younger. I'm old enough that my original nuclear family is mostly no longer on earth; my children are grown and have homes of their own (and I have grandchildren). I've been widowed twice now, so I live alone. If home was only where my family was, I'd feel homeless -- and I definitely don't

Home is where you feel you belong -- where you have chosen to be, for reasons you have embraced, even if it is not your first choice or fantasy setting; where you have chosen to invest yourself, put down roots in some way, where you have made friends, connections to a larger community, where you feel safe, but also fulfilled.

I think choice is important. People move all of the time, but there's a huge difference in "home" between moving somewhere in your own country because you took a new job, got married, etc.... or moving to a new country you "chose" to go to because there were no opportunities for you in your native land, but over time you put down roots... or worse, moving to a new country because you had to flee to for your own safety. This novel makes that clear for me. Even with family members nearby, nobody in this novel felt "at home" after they were forced to leave their homeland, even though they were all successful at adapting to new locations. Simply having shared memories of a place, or social connections, didn't make it home under those circumstances.


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

Join Date: 01/23/15

Posts: 113

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

I do not think any of them felt like they were truly home, they always felt like there was something missing.


Posted Jun. 10, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sherilyn15

Join Date: 02/24/14

Posts: 4

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Home is my sanctuary. It is a place that I retreat from the rest of the world. It is the place I go to where I can be free to be the me I want to be. None of the characters had a home that seemed to be the equivalent of my sanctuary. Salma had experienced a true home in Jaffa. But the children never felt the security, or safety of “Home.”


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

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 44

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

To me, "home" conjures the feeling of being with my family. Having moved often as a military wife, our home was where we were all together. The physical "house" or place did make a difference to our everyday lives, but it did not define the essence of "home".


Posted Jun. 11, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sandrah

Join Date: 07/18/11

Posts: 66

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Like the characters in this novel, my family moved every 4 years. The first moves were within a close area but when I entered 4th grade we left our extended family for a year and moved into a small unit in a barracks setting then returned but to an apartment a few miles from our earlier home then across the state to a duplex and next from the Midwest to a small town in New York and, finally to southern Iowa. While these were not moves that took me to a new country, the settings changed our family dynamics. I tell you this because all of these moves changed me and my siblings and our connection to our extended family. Then after I married my husband and I moved from Iowa south eventually to Texas and from there to South Dakota and finally to Minnesota. While these moves were not as dramatic as those of the characters in the book, they changed how I connected to my larger family. So, I understand the difficulties the characters in the book had as they tried to adjust to their changing homes and becoming in some instances separated from the once close family relationships. So, did the characters find a home after their moves? Yes and no but definitely they adjusted, some willingly and others never losing the hold that the past has on their lives. But in the long run, each was changed.


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

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

I think 'home' is any place that you are surrounded by security. We are a traveling and relocation people. Family will often split up for a number of reasons, schooling, employment, memories, and yet each one is likely to find 'home' or security again. Maybe not with other family members, but with close friends, a community or their job.

I think the book characters adapted to their surroundings and tried to find security, and in that way found their home.


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

Join Date: 05/29/15

Posts: 256

Expert

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Home is where your heart is even if not in person.


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

Join Date: 09/02/13

Posts: 29

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

home is something that can transported in your heart. What made each of the characters strong was the sense that this family bond was something that connected each one to the other. Like an invisible magnet and that could not be broken as long as they worked to maintain that connection. The only character who got lost was Mustafa. He was dragged away and never heard from again. According to the letters, up to the end his faith in Allah is what kept him going until it was beaten out of him.


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

Join Date: 09/15/14

Posts: 35

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Home is where you find those you love and thus may be anywhere. I think it was initially very difficult for the older family members to realize this because of the sudden shock of the loss of the 'physical' home they had known. As they moved the family around the Middle East and elsewhere the later generations were able to recognize the 'Home' of family.


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

Join Date: 03/11/16

Posts: 3

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

Home is family. They all had to keep moving. I think the Nablus home was always their main home. They kept referring back to that home. At one point Alia ? has a house maid who lived in one of the displacement camps and was always uncomfortable around her. They were lucky to have money so that each time they moved they could refurnish the new home. I think the only time they really felt home was during the summers when all of the women would gather together.


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

Join Date: 03/10/15

Posts: 15

RE: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think any of the characters in the book truly found a home after the family left Palestine?

This question is something I have thought about for years...ever since I relocated to Texas from NJ almost 40 years ago...and I think it depends on many things...how deep were the family roots in the place you were born and spent most of your life in...are most of your family still living in that same area...did you go to school there...do you still have a support group of friends there...do you return to that area frequently...and so much more...Yes, my nuclear family created by marriage is here and this is my new home but my heart has always also been where my original nuclear family was and still is...I totally understood the push and pull of family that the female characters in this book felt...


Reply

Please login to post a response.