My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book in less than four hours.
At first I was not sure I wanted to stick with it. The violence in the beginning chapters and the graphic situations seemed to be just too much. It was obviously not going to be an ‘easy’ read.
I kept reading out of curiosity, to see how the plot progressed and whether there could possibly be a happy ending.
Michelle Corasanti has chosen to write about a difficult and complex issue. The Palestinian/Jewish question is not easily solved. The Balfour Declaration (in 1917), promised a homeland for the Jewish people with the caveat that the land would be partitioned fairly. Tragically, and, as has happened in world history over and over again, that is (largely) what has not happened.
By the time 1948 rolled around the world was ready to see the Jewish people, after millions had been exterminated, finally obtain their homeland. This novel is about what happened to one Palestinian family over years of displacement.
Ichmad, the main character, has a wonderful role model in his parent. Baba, Ichmad’s father, chooses to forgive the harsh prison treatment (with no fair trial or even justification for his sentence) instead of harboring anger, bitterness, or seeking vengeance. Ichmad’s brother, Abbas, however, chooses a different path.
It is evident from the slant of the novel that the author hopes to promote peace and living in harmony between vastly different backgrounds, even when wrongs are perpetrated. Whether this is now possible, after all the years of devastating wrongs done (on both sides), is left to the reader to decide.
When you can move past the brutality and the shock of what families that were displaced have suffered, the reader does become engrossed with the story and there ARE some good endings. Ichmad DOES persevere and he is able to continue with his education and ultimately a fulfilling and rewarding life (without divulging too many spoilers!)
There are many issues covered in this novel. Justice and injustice, terrorism, historical events (loosely covered as they are from the fictional character’s perspective only), the mere struggle to survive in incredibly difficult circumstances, prejudices of family, friendships and intermarraige between Jewish and Arab peoples are just some of the topics covered in this novel. As I finished the book I could not help but wonder if some of it could be autobiographical. I also did feel that there could be more to the story, as the Palestinian side seemed to be more favored than the Israeli story (who also have their own personal tragedies they have lived through).
I received this book as a goodreads giveaway in exchange for my honest opinion, and I am glad I read it!
Be prepared to think as you read this book, and to have your perspective challenged.