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A very powerful read.

The Almond Tree - Michelle Cohen Corasanti

This well written book gave an excellent sense of the desperation felt by many Palestinians, that whatever they do, they are battling against impossible odds, yet, there is always hope. The only downside for me, was that Ichmad Hamid, who raises himself above all the desolation, only does so because of his supreme intelligence, which gives him exceptional mathematical abilities - I'd have preferred the hero to have been a more 'typical' member of the community.


Beginning in 1955, the novel starts with one of the most powerful opening chapters of any book I have read. Fortunately not all the following chapters are as harrowing, or I do not think I could have read it. Ichmad's family is close-knit, with a father who advocates love in the face of hardship and holds his family together with wisdom. But the hardships that they face would test any growing boys and their reactions to events differ.


The almond tree of the title became the centre of Ichmad's family's life after they had been evicted from their land to make space for the incoming Israeli population. it provided them with shelter, a source of food and income, and a view-point from which to watch their former land, now under Israeli occupation.


It is remarkable that the author is in fact Jewish, rather than Palestinian, as I had expected. She felt she could reach the largest number of people with her message by becoming a writer and I hope this book will become as well known as The Kite Runner and she may achieve her aim.