Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
“And life, life has swept her along like a tiny seashell onto sand, has washed over her and now, suddenly, she is old…, there is no one to ask the questions she needs to ask.”
― Hala Alyan, Salt Houses
On the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee grounds. 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 war.
Salt Houses provides an intimate view of how the wars of the Middle East affected individuals and family units. There was not any one character I grew to love, but I was sympathetic to almost all of them. Many family members did not see eye to eye a lot of the time, but when they came together they were strengthened. It was a reminder of what a family can be when forgiveness is granted and positive connections are reinforced.
The Six-Day War is the first to impact the family. The Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors was not about one particular concern or dispute. The war occurred, rather, after a series of events escalated tensions. It then details the family’s journey through the Six-Day War (1967), the First Intifada (1987), the Gulf War (1990), the Second Intifada (2000), 9/11 (2001), and the 2006 Lebanon War.