Madeline's Reviews > The Shepherd's Granddaughter

The Shepherd's Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter
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's review
Apr 20, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: assigned-reading, kids-and-young-adult
Read in January, 2010

I consider myself a politically moderate person. I do not consider myself an intolerant anti-Semitic bigot. I definitely do not believe in excessive violence as a problem-solving tool. I've attended three bat mitzvahs in my life. I like Jews. I'm saying all of this so that you can fully understand the implications of the statement I'm about to make:

Reading this book made me want to go to Palestine and kill Israelis.

For those fine patriots reading this review and getting ready to break down my door because I flagged terrorist alarm bells somewhere, please allow me to explain that this feeling, luckily, did not last. Once I finished the book and spent a few minutes sitting quietly in a corner, I calmed down. I promise, I no longer want to kill anyone. But I have never, ever read a book that made me so incredibly angry. Not because the story is particularly inflammatory or inaccurate, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't written with the express purpose of making me want to kill Israelis. (my friend, for instance, also read this book and was in tears for the last fifty pages) This book made me angry because of the endless, frustrating parade of injustices that happen to the protagonist and her family. That's why it gets three stars, by the way - the story really wasn't that great, but I felt it deserved credit for stirring such powerful emotions in me.

The story is about a shepherd girl named Amani. For hundreds of years her family has grown olive trees in a valley and grazed their sheep on the nearby mountain. That all changes, however, when the Israeli settlers roll in and decide they're going to build a settlement on the mountain, thereby cutting off the family's grazing pasture and eventually destroying their farm and livelihood.

I cannot list all of the things the settlers do that made me furious. Here are some of them:
They build highways right across the family's land - highways that Palestinians are not allowed to drive on. They arrest Amani's uncle and then her father, and hold them in prison without trial. They fence off the mountain where Amani grazes her sheep and shoot at her when she gets too close to the fence. Her family is not allowed to harvest olives from their trees near the fence, because the Israeli soldiers think this will give her family a chance to hide snipers in the trees. When her family goes near their trees, the Israelis shoot at them and throw rocks from behind the fence. Her mother, having left the country to visit Amani's dying grandmother, is detained at the border because she "has a suspicious look." The settlers poison the water trough where Amani brings her sheep, and nearly the entire flock dies. They bulldoze her house. They shoot and kill her fucking dog.

I know there's another side to this story. I know the Israelis have their own reasons for claiming Palestine, but whatever those reasons are, they aren't very well represented in this book. According to the book, God told the Israelis that the land was theirs, so they just strolled in and took what they wanted, and fuck the Palestinian farmers who are kind of living there already. "God told us to" has always been and will always be a really stupid fucking justification as far as I'm concerned.

So, I'm asking my more politically-savvy Goodreads friends to please explain the other side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This clusterfuck cannot be nearly as simple as The Shepherd's Granddaughter makes it seem.

Dear god, let it not be that simple.

Read for: Social Justice in Young Adult Literature

UPDATE: Hey, I'm famous! Jewish Tribune thinks I'm a vapid asshole.

I feel like I should get a commemorative plate made: "First Time Being Quoted Out Of Context." Yay?

UPDATE UPDATE: Marjorie Ingall's article is up, and it's very good. Enjoy!

UPDATE, ONCE MORE WITH FEELING: Marjorie Ingall wrote a blog entry about the banning issue, and Brian Henry (the gentleman who used my words to prove that this book should be taken out of schools) commented on it. At the moment of posting this, it looks like there's a nice debate starting over whether Mr. Henry actually quoted me out of context or not.

Brian Henry, on the off chance you're actually reading this, let me just say: you most certainly did quote me out of context, and while I cannot control how you use my words, I can at least voice my disgust that something I wrote is being used to support your cause.

Plus, let's be honest: banning books? Sweetie, kids don't care. They have the Internet now.
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Comments (showing 1-34 of 34) (34 new)

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message 1: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia I predict a flurry of angry troll comment on this review.

Madeline I'm not nearly so optimistic. I'll be surprised if I'm not arrested by this time tomorrow.

message 3: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Then those Georgia cops will have ME to deal with. Damn yankee liberal civil rights freakazoid.

message 4: by Bob (new) - rated it 1 star

Bob Madeline,

I think this book had exactly the effect it's supposed to have on you. It's designed to make you hate Israelis.

And no, of course, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn't as simple as made out in this story. The author has taken every bad thing ever done by any settler, made up a few more, and inflicted them all on the hapless heroine and her family.

In real life, the Israelis haven't built a new settlement in ten years. The govt in their area (near hebron) is the Palestinian Authority.

If settlers were encroaching on their lands, the Palestinians would have appealed to the Israeli courts (which they do all the time). The courts would have come down on their side.

The Israeli army probably wouldn't ever be involved at all, but if it were, it would be on the side of the Palestinians.

The author would probably excuse her flights of fancy on the basis that this is a work of fiction. It would be more accurate to call it propaganda.

message 5: by Jay (new)

Jay You want to go to where?

message 6: by Jay (new)

Jay Explain the other side? Okay

The Jews DO believe that the land was promised to them by god, and in fact that has been written in the oldest texts we have found, texts that pre-date islam or the idea of palestinians.

Jews were living in those lands before there was such a thing as Muslims.

Jews have been prosecuted and chased out of these lands many times by almost every single ruling power in the area.

After the holocaust, the UK and the UN gave that land back to the Jews, not only because it was decided that the Jewish people need a country to themselves (everyone else has a country or state don't they?), but also because suddenly there were a lot of Jews everywhere and the British didn't want to deal with that.

There is not and has never been a country called Palestine. Ever. In history.
People may link it to Philistine, and thereby justify it, but Palestine has never been a recognised country.

As for building settlements, it has already been expressed that no new settlements have been built in these areas in ten years.

I'd also like to add that Muslims living in Israel have far more rights than they do even in Islamic countries. They enjoy the same rights as Jewish Israelis do, and do not even have the requirement to join the army.

The very centre of the problem is not that Israel does not want peace. It very much does.
The very centre of the problem is that the radical Islamic groups do not want peace. They have literally said that they won't stop until Israel is wiped off the map. I believe those are the (translated) words that Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, actually said.

The real fact of the matter is that Jews and Arabs live peacefully together in many villages throughout Israel. I have seen it with my own eyes.

Given all that I have said just now, by the way, I absolutely rate this book as propaganda - and powerful propaganda too. People immerse themselves in the world of the book and take it as fact, you can look to The Da Vinci Code for proof of that.
This book seems very damaging.

message 7: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Not only out of context, but your age group has been adjusted to fit the article - since when has 21 years old been considered teenaged?

Madeline No kidding! That's what actually annoys me the most: I realize that yes, I wrote a mean review, but the least they could have done was get my damn age right. It's clearly stated in my profile, which they obviously didn't check.

As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure they even kept reading once they'd finished the first two paragraphs.

message 9: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! If they had continued reading, they would've seen that you felt the book didn't equally represent both sides. Then they surely wouldn't have quoted you in an article aimed at alarming parents of teenagers, since you stated hot emotions were raised by the book and calmed down...and you're not a teenager, right? I hope I'm right.

I want to be so awesomely misquoted!

message 10: by K (new)

K Hi, Madeline,

I mostly agree with Bob and Jay. Negative behaviors by Israeli settlers take place in a larger context and are influenced by a variety of factors, something which doesn't appear to be acknowledged by this book.

For example, there has been a great deal of Arab violence against Jewish communities in the Land of Israel for the better part of a century: before there was a state of Israel, before there was a notion of a Palestinian people, and before there were official Israeli settlements. Many of the Israeli behaviors described in the book, when placed in this context, may be better understood. Holding someone in jail without trial, or detaining someone at the border, is something that can very well take place in a situation where there is a real threat of terrorism.

Israel is in fact a modern state in which all its citizens, Jews and Arabs, enjoy rights we take for granted as Westerners; contrast this with the rest of the Muslim world. Israel is a productive, thriving country; Gaza, on the other hand, remains in a state of anarchy more than four years after Israel's unilateral withdrawal. Arab notions of truth, honor, and the natural rights of man are not the same as our beliefs in the western world.

The book is a work of fiction, and therefore, the author can paint any picture she likes. But I think it's important as a reader to be aware of where the author has failed, or refused, to place things in perspective.

If you want to truly understand the Israeli-Arab conflict, I think that non-fiction books are a better vehicle than fiction books. Non-fiction books should at least try to remain objective and focus on facts, not fancy.

message 11: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Wow, Madeline! (A tiny part of) your review has been quoted. By Canadian Jews! Keep it for your resume/portfolio of published work! Amazing. First you're quoted by your professor, now the Jews want to be part of your big tent.

Madeline Thanks for the extra background information, everyone. Most of what I've learned about this conflict was definitely not presented in the book. There might a logical reason for this - after all, the main character is a young girl who rarely leaves her family's home in the mountains, so I didn't expect her to be a political expert. BUT the one token Jewish character - the one whose job it is to prove that all Israelis aren't murdering bastards - is supposed to be much better informed than the main character, and he never brings up anything that's been mentioned in this thread.

message 13: by Michael (new)

Michael They were clearly more interested in making their point about the book than they were in fairly representing their sources. Not cool.

Madeline It's okay, though - I first found out about this when I was contacted by a writer doing an article about the movement to ban the book from schools. (She is a nice lady, here's her website: She's on Goodreads and actually read my entire review, understood that I was misrepresented in the article, and is going to include something about the quote in her piece. So at least I'm being defended by someone.

message 15: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia I enjoyed looking at Marjorie's blog, which led me to an interesting blog by a woman who is documenting her year of eating school lunch with her students. Some of the photos are horrible. The school lunch blog led me to Jaime Oliver's website. He is truly wonderful. Thus was my trip around the internet. Let me know when Marjorie's article shows up! Mom

message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael Welcome to the media! There has been a fact wrong in almost everything that the media has done about my documentary, me, or the cast. It's crazy! You'd think part of their job description would be to fact check, etc. You can't believe everything you read. So true. :-)

message 17: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Ingall Now I feel I need to defend the media! We don't all suck! There are many honorable writers who do the research, don't quote people out of context, and let the facts (or at least the fact that there is dispute about the facts!) dictate the story rather than the other way around.

I don't want to engage further with Mr. Henry. I'm really troubled by his (mis)using you as a pawn -- major low blow for a grown man to manipulate the words of a college student. (And he knew exactly what he was doing, since he called you a "girl" and didn't correct the Jewish Tribune when it picked up his piece called you a "teenage girl.") I've said my piece in Tablet (I just published a second story there -- -- with recommendations of other YA books about the conflict that offer more balance -- rather than ban books, LET'S READ MORE BOOKS!) and on my blog. Now I want to take deep breaths and hope that this little tempest in a teapot isn't proof that there's no hope for peace in the Middle East.

Madeline I'm also going to come to the defense of the media - as Ms. Ingall has proved, some writers are interested in fairly representing their sources (thanks again, Majorie!).

I'm still debating whether I should post a comment on your blog in response to Mr. Henry. It's tempting, but something tells me it'd just start a passive-aggressive flame war and no one would get anywhere.

message 19: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Madeline and Snarly, thanks for the updated links. This "Granddaughter" review is going to follow both of you around for a while, I'm guessing.

Madeline An immaturely written review with violent, possibly-terrorist implications that's currently being wielded as a book-banning weapon by some officious man in Canada with two first names.

This is my legacy.

message 21: by Brian (new)

Brian Madeline,

Sorry for the delay in replying - I didn't see your note to me until today. I hope you’re still paying attention.

First, and most importantly, I don't think you're a "vapid asshole," and I've never said or implied anything of the kind. I think you're intelligent, fair-minded, articulate and funny.

Next, having read Marjorie's article, you misunderstand the issue. I've never called for the Shepherd's Granddaughter to be taken out of schools or otherwise banned.

This book was put on a list of 10 recommended books that were actively promoted by the schools to all children in grades 7 and 8.

As you've noted this book is not exactly even-handed. In fact it's grossly biased and makes Israelis look evil.

I don't think schools should be actively encoraging children to read such a book.

Subsequently, the Toronto school board partially agreed with me and instructed librarians that students shouldn't be reading the book without guidance, though they kept it on the recommended reading list and continued promoting it.

Two school board trustees did want the book removed from our libraries, which is where the issue of "book banning" came in. But that was them, not me.

As for supposedly quoting you out of context, I quoted your words: "Reading this book made me want to go to Palestine and kill Israelis." I did not add or subtract anything from them or imply they meant anything beyond what you said.

You suggest people might suppose you were planning a terrorist campaign – I assume you’re not serious, but just in case, be assured that when you says something like, "I felt like killing someone," no one imagines that you're actually planning murder.

In short, I didn't distort your meaning in any way.
Really, your complaint seems to be that you would have liked me to quote more of what you had to say. That's understandable - we all like to be quoted at length.

However, I was interested in your gut response to the book, which you gave vividly and which I quoted. And of course I've always provided a link to your review so that interested people could check out what you have to say in detail.

You also complain that I didn't get your age right - guilty. Sorry, I don't use social media much and it didn't occur to me that you'd have a profile.

Instead, as you were reviewing a YA book, I assumed you belonged to the age group the book was aimed at.

Finally, I’m sorry I have two first names; when I was a kid, classmates bugged me about it all the time. But there are worse things in life.

All the best,
Brian Henry

Madeline I’m only going to say this one more time: yes, you certainly did quote me out of context. You chose the most provocative and offensive line in my review and let it represent my entire opinion about the book with no other context. The point of my review, which you ignored in your single-sentence quote, was not that the book made me angry. The point was that the anger created by the book was what caused me to seek out additional information on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and educate myself further on the issue. By quoting only that one line of the review and ignoring everything that followed it, you created a deliberately provocative idea of a book that will inspire ignorant teenagers to blind rage. This is not an issue of you not quoting me at length, this is an issue of you taking my words and using them to promote an agenda which I do not support, and which my review as a whole does not support.

As for the issue of my age, I can perhaps understand your being unfamiliar with the workings of Goodreads, which made you unable to locate my profile with my age clearly stated at the top. The problem I have is your assumption that, because I was reviewing a book written for teenagers, I must be a teenager too. On Goodreads, you can find fifty-year-olds reviewing children’s books and thirteen-year-olds reviewing Tolstoy, so to assume that only teenagers review books aimed at teenagers is a foolish and uninformed assumption. When you’re going to quote a source as evidence, you need to consider who, exactly, that source is. By incorrectly portraying me as a teenager, you belittled both me and my opinion.

You may be interested to know that I read this book for a college class on young adult literature, and we discussed at length the many issues present in the book and how we might go about presenting it to young readers. I believe that The Shepherd’s Granddaughter should not be read alone, and that anyone who reads it (no matter their age) should be aware that it’s a very biased account, and should seek out more information on the conflict presented. If we’re being honest, I probably wouldn’t choose this book for 7th graders to read, mostly because it simply isn’t a very well-written book. But that’s only my opinion, and the opinion of one individual should never be used to make a decision that affects an entire group of people.

message 23: by Brian (new)

Brian I assume you can't really be objecting to me quoting the line you took such great care to emphasize.

So I guess the nub of the matter is that in addition to referring to your gut response - your anger and how the book prompted that anger which you spend 3/4 of your review exploring - you think I should have also said that the book was so overboard that it prompted you to seek out additional information on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As you say: "This clusterfuck cannot be nearly as simple as The Shepherd's Granddaughter makes it seem."

Well, good for you - that's an excellent response, but it's in no way a recommendation for the book and therefore irrelevant to the issue I was addressing; namely, whether this book should be *recommended* to all kids in grades 7 and 8.

That ultimately you had a reasoned response - in spite of the inflamatory nature of the book - is hardly an argument for elevating it to a list of 10 books to be actively promoted to 12- and 13-year-olds.

All the best,

Madeline Let me ask you something: why are you working so hard to defend your use of my words? The article's writtn, the damage is done, and attempting to explain why you used my review to promote your agenda won't change the issue or my feelings that you misquoted me. Your simpering condescension has proved that you don't respect me as a sensible human being, so I'm not sure why you continue to waste your time on this thread. What exactly is supposed to happen here? "Oh, thank you for illuminating the issue, Mr. Henry! I used to think that you using my words out of context to promote censorship was wrong, but now thanks to your airtight arguments I have seen the light! PRAISE JESUS."

message 25: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia That's my girl.

message 26: by Brian (new)

Brian Madeline,

You began this conversation by addressing me directly. I did you the courtesy of replying.
I thought I'd set the record straight or perhaps reassure you on at least some points:

- "vapid asshole." No and nothing like this.

- "taking words out of context." You'd said you were done with this point, so I went along with you, but since you’ve brought it up again: The phrase implies the lack of context alters the meaning of the quoted words. That didn't happen. I quoted what you said and you said what you meant. You were very clear.

- "censorship" and “book banning.” To repeat: My issue was whether the book deserved to be elevated to a list of 10 that kids were encouraged to read. I don’t think so.

You said you wouldn’t recommend the book to kids in grade 7. You also said the book should not be read alone, and that anyone who reads it (no matter their age) should be aware that it’s a very biased account. But the school board was presenting the book alone with no balancing material to kids who likely wouldn’t know it was a biased account. As far as I can see, you agree with me.

I don’t see where you get this charge of “censorship” at all. I disagreed with our schools putting a book on a recommended list. How is that censorship? There’s no right to be on a recommended reading list. Or are all the many books not on the list “censored”?

Surely you’re not suggesting that some people shouldn't be allowed a say in what does or doesn't happen in our schools? That’d really be censorship.

You ask, “What exactly is supposed to happen here?”
You’ve given your point of view. I’ve given mine. I suggest we agree to disagree.

message 28: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Ingall Dying.

Now I can't decide between the Orson Welles slow-clap .gif or the lolcat invisible violin!

Madeline I just really hope he responds again. I have an entire ARSENAL of these babies. A great man once said, "When logical discourse fails, funny captioned photos must suffice."

I think it was Winston Churchill.

message 30: by Alecia (new)

Alecia Mr. Brian Henry, ladies and gentlemen! King of vapid assholes and gross abuser of decontextulized quotes!

I meant to do that.

Madeline, you are brilliant!

Brian, yeah...not so much.

message 31: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Madeline, Alecia is my Goodreads friend. You have fans all over the internet.

message 32: by (new)

★ Just saw this on my news feed. Thats amazing, Madeline :)

Madeline I'd just like to let everyone know that I'm enjoying this thread immensely. When this is all over we should go out for drinks together. (you can come too, Brian.)

message 34: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Fabulous idea. We should all go to trivia night together!

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