Salt Houses – Hala Alyan

On the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel, and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass when the family is uprooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967. Salma is forced to leave her home in Nablus; Alia’s brother gets pulled into a politically militarized world he can’t escape; and Alia and her gentle-spirited husband move to Kuwait City, where they reluctantly build a life with their three children.

When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990, Alia and her family once again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it, scattering to Beirut, Paris, Boston, and beyond. Soon Alia’s children begin families of their own, once again navigating the burdens (and blessings) of assimilation in foreign cities.

Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses is a remarkable debut novel that challenges and humanizes an age-old conflict we might think we understand—one that asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can’t go home again. –

I received this book free from the publisher via in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t even know where to start. My heart is physically aching and my stomach feels weird, my eyes are tearing up. This novel is so completely raw, beautiful and confronting on so many levels.

We experience war through the eyes of adults and children, we see children held up as a mirror to their parents. Loss, heart ache, love, so much love and pain that is always somehow overcome or managed.

If you enjoy multi-generational novels and character based plots, you will definitely enjoy this. If you loved Pachinko, you will especially love this. One for the shelves and I think I could gladly pick up any novel that Hala Alyan decides to write in future.

Heart-breakingly real.


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