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Ash. Spiritual. Happy in my own way. Writes Random Stuff. Ice Cream. Night owl. Ice Cream, again.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Book Review: The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti


You read some books and enjoy them. You read some books and relate to them. 
Some books make you feel happy. Some books make you feel sad. 
Some books reach out to your heart and leave a mark which you can never forget. 

This is one such book.

The Almond Tree is the debut novel of Michelle Cohen Corasanti and it takes us through the life of Ahmed Hamid and his family. It is set in the backdrop of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. This is not the usual rags to the riches story, but it gives a very practical insight to the struggles faced by the families during the troubled times. What’s more interesting is that the book is written by a Jewish-American author who narrates the story from a Palestinian’s perspective.

When Ahmed Hamid was young, his family was forced to leave their palatial home. Just when they settle into their new life and their hardships, his father is imprisoned. Ahmed is left with no choice but to drop out of school and take care of his family comprising of his Mother, his sister Nadia, his immediate younger brother Abbas and two other younger brothers Hani and Fadi. Having witnessed the death of his two younger sisters Amal and Saira, he is determined to provide a living for his family and takes up menial jobs. Fast forward a few years, his tutor Mohammad coaxes him into taking a scholarship examination which would get him to the Hebrew University.
Ahmed Hamid is gifted with numbers and possesses a very sharp mind. Not wanting such a bright student to forgo a wonderful opportunity his tutor volunteers to coach him post his work timings. With this, Ahmed easily cracks the written test and an oral test of sorts and is granted full scholarship for his studies. His mom is skeptical and reluctant to send him but Ahmed finally makes it to the university. The rest of the book is about how he dives into the world of academia, and at the same time takes care of his family.

I was initially doubtful when I received this book for review as I thought it was about something that I was not very well acquainted with. I was under the impression that this was probably just another Kite Runner, and having recently read it, I was trying to compare the books even before I’d started reading. But when I read past the initial pages, I just couldn’t put it down and I did not find myself stopping to compare with the other book, though the plots are sketched in a similar way. One very endearing aspect of the book was that it wonderfully portrayed the realistic struggles of a family when they’re left to fend for themselves. Every time there was a tragedy, my heart went out to the protagonist. Every time something good happened, I genuinely felt happy. I was able to paint a clear picture of the entire book, thanks to the wonderful narration by the author. I was able to recreate the atmosphere in my mind as and when I was reading the book. What more can an avid reader ask for?

Overall, I loved this book. I would rate it a good 4 on 5. It’s really tough to believe that this is the debut work of the author.

If you wish to read this book, you can buy the book here.


This review is posted as part of Book Review Program by The Literary Jewels.

27 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful book. Tells the story of a boy who swims against the tide. His sufferings make us feel guilty.

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    1. I know. I truly felt guilty at times.

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  2. I have read good reviews about this book, elsewhere too. I would like to read some non-fiction accounts on this topic, if such books have been published. But I have found lately that some fiction books take the liberty to tell more, and that makes them all the more interesting! I think I will read this book sometime, along with Kite Runner.

    Destination Infinity

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  3. I always find it interesting to read about palestinians..so will have to read this.

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  4. Any book that makes the reader identify himself to the travails and joys of the protagonist must be good.You started with an open mind and got totally absorbed by the book.I shall try to read it

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  5. Well, I did hear about this novel and am quite intrigued by it. I must read it just to quench my curiosity. However, I came across this contrary viewpoint from Susan Abulhawa, a writer whose work I've greatly admired, and couldn't help wonder whether there is an element of truth in what the review says. Would like to hear your thoughts on it!
    Here's the review-
    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/11/almond-tree-when-novels-distort-legacies-struggle-20131114102216116623.html

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    1. Hi Krishna, I read this book much before this review and following the book and author after that, so I'm sharing some links with you, which you surely like to read : http://mondoweiss.net/2013/12/corasanti-palestinian-suffering.html

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    2. I found few more articles written by author of this book, here it is the links : http://thealmondtreebook.com/2014/02/04/readers-deserve-truth-almond-tree/

      http://thealmondtreebook.com/2014/03/17/i-am-almond-tree-essay/

      and ofcourse this review as well, I read this in Dawn, daily english newspaper of Pakistan, but find the link of this on author's website : http://thealmondtreebook.com/2014/03/05/the-almond-tree-book-review-on-dawn-com/

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    3. I found Susan Abulhawa's review its not review, there is some tussle, she is advocating Palestinians from long time and now if an Jewish American like Michelle start thinking like this and want to do something like this and wrote such book, thats why its very clear how can people like Susan survive, they are living and enjoying their life on the sake of Palestinians, raising thousands of dollars. she feared, if it will become a trend and after the success of this book or more and more jewish people start working like this or start sorting out the problem of Palestinians, then there is no way for Susan. thats why she is not criticizing the book, she try to do postmortem of the book.

      Its jealousy of her, she can't digest an jewish can think like this, she feels, only she is having right to speak or write for Palestinians. how shameful she is. if she really wants the solution of Palestine, then she must welcome of Michelle Corasanti or anybody like Michelle, she must work together but with her long write up in Al Jazeera..it looks...she dont want to solution of the problem, she continuously prefer to advocating and batting for Palestine, she dont want the end of it. thats why she was so worried. and it is very horrible, a person who used to claim..my life is for Palestine and she is not ready to accept other person, who also wants the betterment of the Palestinians. if you are follower of Susan Abulhawa, then please try to stop following her blindly and open your eyes, then think about it.

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    4. All I can say is Susan Abulhawa is jealous. Look at the way she is describing the author. “Cohen-Corasanti, a Jewish White American woman of considerable privilege”. The bottom line is Susan does not like Jewish people. I can understand that.

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    5. Hi Krishna. Thanks for sharing the review.

      I read it as a work of fiction and I wouldn't draw my conclusions about the saga only from the book. So, it's just about a perspective and what attributes are generalized.

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    6. @Yawar

      Thanks for those links. It is up to an individual to draw facts from each author's writings. So, to each his own :-)

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    7. @SG

      I had similar sentiments about the review as well.

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    8. Agree with both of you SG and Aahwini :)

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  6. Since I loved Kite Runner, I might like this book as well. Will give it a try Ashwini.

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  7. Thanks Ashwin, really like your review, you have wrote an honest review, Nice work :-)

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  8. Sorry for wrong spelling of your name...its Ashwini :)

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. while searching on google come across here, Nice
    B.ED FROM MDU

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