Reading guide for A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Map of Home

by Randa Jarrar

A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar X
A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2008, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2009, 305 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Nidali opens with the story of her birth and says, “Baba realized that he didn’t know my sex for sure but that didn’t matter; he’d always known I was a boy.” How does the fact that Nidali is female affect her relationship with her father? Do you think Waheed would have been as hard on her if she had been a boy? Examine the dynamics of this father-daughter relationship.
     
  2. Nidali grows up in several different countries. What do you learn about adolescence from her varied perspective? Is it a universal experience?
     
  3. Examine the several passages in which Nidali reflects on the idea of home and what it means to her. How does she define home? Is it a concept or something more concrete? What does the title refer to?
     
  4. When Nidali’s religious cousin Esam comes to visit, he throws away her Wonder Woman stickers, proclaiming the character looks like a “naked heathen” and “a shameless prostitute.” Nidali looks at the remains of the stickers and says, “These white spots were, to me, parts of God.” What role does religion play in Nidali’s childhood? Does it change or evolve as she grows up?
     
  5. Consider the different settings in the novel--Kuwait, Egypt, and Texas. Where do you think the Ammar family is the most content? Find instances when Jarrar weaves historical events into the plot and discuss the different ways her characters are affected by them.
     
  6. Nidali writes a letter to Sadam Hussein to complain about the Iraqi invasion and how it is ruining her life. What does this reveal about Nidali? About the connection between the personal and the political?
     
  7. Nidali’s parents each live with the disappointment that they gave up their dream careers: Waheed never became a great poet and Ruz never became a concert pianist. How does each parent deal with this regret? How do their failures affect Nidali and her own hopes for the future?
     
  8. Nidali chronicles her family’s new life in America in the chapter “The Shit No One Bothered to Tell Us.” What is the effect of her ironic commentary in these vignettes? How does Nidali portray her new home? Does she find anything positive in Texas?
     
  9. Waheed is a complex character, capable of extreme compassion and love as well as quick-tempered anger and abuse. Do you ever sympathize with Waheed? What are the driving forces of his behavior?
     
  10. Nidali’s sexual awakening is a significant part of her adolescence. From her first boyfriend Fakhr in Kuwait to her high-school crush Medina in Texas, Nidali goes through a range of joyous and unpleasant experiences. Compare and contrast these encounters. How does she react to heartbreak? To disappointment?
     
  11. Growing up, Nidali is fascinated by her family history. In what ways does family history affect an individual life? How is Nidali shaped by those events in her family that occurred before her birth?
     
  12. Does Waheed’s acceptance of Nidali’s final act of rebellion--going to the “forbidden fruit college in Boston”-- show he is finally ready to let go? Is his change of heart a reaction to his recent experiences as an immigrant is the U.S. or is it in keeping with his long-standing relationship with Nidali? Is this a fitting ending?
     
  13. The book opens with Waheed holding a pen, and ends with Ruz throwing one out the window, and Nidali catching it. What role does writing play in the novel?
     


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Penguin Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Arabic Music

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Whereabouts
    Whereabouts
    by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Jhumpa Lahiri's Whereabouts has seen numerous comparisons to Second Place by Rachel Cusk. These two ...
  • Book Jacket: Swimming Back to Trout River
    Swimming Back to Trout River
    by Linda Rui Feng
    Linda Rui Feng's first novel, Swimming Back to Trout River, is a powerful meditation on the ties ...
  • Book Jacket: The Unfit Heiress
    The Unfit Heiress
    by Audrey Farley
    During the American eugenics movement (see Beyond the Book), involuntary sterilization was used to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Daughters Of Smoke & Fire
    by Ava Homa
    Ava Homa's debut novel begins with an epigraph by Sherko Bekas, a Kurdish poet, the last lines of ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Book of Lost Names
by Kristin Harmel
A heartrending novel of survival, inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Everybody
    by Olivia Laing

    "Impassioned and provocative...[an] intensely moving, vital and artful book."
    —The Guardian

  • Book Jacket

    Ariadne
    by Jennifer Saint

    A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Who Said...

Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

H I T Best P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.