Gifted with a mind that continues to impress the elders in his village, Ahmed Hamid struggles with knowing that he can do nothing to save his friends and family. Living on occupied land, his entire village operates in fear of losing their homes, jobs, and belongings. But more importantly, the people fear losing each other.
On Ahmed’s twelfth birthday, that fear becomes reality. With his father imprisoned, his family’s home and possessions confiscated, and his siblings quickly succumbing to hatred in the face of conflict, Ahmed begins an inspiring journey using his intellect to save his poor and dying family. In doing so he reclaims a love for others that was lost through a childhood rife with violence and loss, and discovers a new hope for the future.
My year had begun with a lot of changes – cities, mindsets, people, work, leisure and most importantly, hope. It is almost serendipitous that the year is ending on the crimson note of hope. I think most of us believe that life is a journey from the moment your eyes open till they shut forever. There are a number of things, material and tangible, that stay with you throughout this journey. For me, great books are the priceless things I have been collecting to make my journey of a life a little better. There are a few books which will stay glued to me wherever I move, The Almond Tree has been added to that collection now.
The genre of writing about the Middle-East or Afghanistan is not easy. It has never been so. The countries and their people have gone through such things that the rest of the world would find difficult to even imagine. I, for one, didn’t have much idea about the Israel-Palestine conflict until this book. To put it softly, I thought they were the ‘India-Pakistan’ of Middle-East, a term we often use casually to describe a conflict.
This book made me read about tortures and sufferings that India and Pakistan haven’t yet been able to inflict upon each other. The first chapter itself is a bolt out of the blue and it made me sit upright, ignoring the warm summer breeze and aroma of roasted almonds that it promised. Michelle Cohen Corasanti has transported her readers into the life of a Palestinian Arab so effortlessly that anyone can relate to Ahmed Hamid. We witness Ahmed’s life and that of his family through each chapter. The agony and hardships of pre-teen Ahmed and Abbas for their Baba and siblings gnaws at your heart. At times I felt it is beyond my imagination that children across the world had to bear the brunt of war in such ways.
The author has presented a heart-wrenching and inspiring story for everyone. Ahmed will remain a sturdy example of how motivation and survival instinct combined with intellect made him rise from the ashes. Love and hate are portrayed beautifully as two sides of the same coin through Ahmed and Abbas. The author writes freely here, not complicating her language too much. The different eras spanning Ahmed’s life are well divided into books. Her narration is so cogent that one can visualize the hills nesting almond and olive trees. Tragedy is carefully blended with little moments of joy to create an endless pasture of life.
I would recommend this book to everyone for growing up.
My Rating: 5/5
About the Author:
Michelle Cohen Corasanti has a BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an MA from Harvard University, both in Middle Eastern Studies. She also holds a law degree. A Jewish American, she has lived in France, Spain, Egypt and England and spent seven years living in Jerusalem. The Almond Tree is her first novel.
Language: English, Genre: Drama
Author(s): Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Publisher: Prakash Books, Imprint: Fingerprint, Year Published: 2013
Binding: Paperback, Edition: First, Pages: 352
ISBN-13: 9788172344870, ISBN-10: 8172344872
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