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The Blue Between Sky and Water

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,118 ratings  ·  501 reviews
From the internationally bestselling author of Mornings in Jenin, a novel about four generations of powerful Palestinian women in Gaza.

Violently pushed from their ancient farming village of Beit Daras, a Palestinian family tries to reconstitute itself in a refugee camp in Gaza. The men here, those who have escaped prison or the battlefields, worry over making ends meet, te
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Hardcover, 293 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Bloomsbury USA
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,118 ratings  ·  501 reviews


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Diane S ☔
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have now read three books about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict in a short period of time. This is very pro Palestinian and understandably so as the author's father was a freedom fighter and she herself is actively involved in an organization to help the children of Gaza. Regardless, this is a very well though out and researched novel.

It opens with a family in Beit Daras and this first part is written in stream of consciousness, when the Israeli military invades the village and forces the
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Angela M
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up to 4 stars

Many times when we see the news coverage about conflicts in various places in the world, we tend to feel an affinity with one side or another for political , religious or philosophical reasons. What we tend to forget sometimes when thinking about this on those levels is that there are victims on both sides and that these are real human beings bearing the day to day to day , year to year and sometimes a life time of suffering . This is a decidedly pro- Palestinian novel
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Carol
I'm done. I stopped at page 64. Had I been reading a book that spoke of either Palestinians or Muslims in the way this novel speaks of Jews and Israelis, I would likely have stopped a few dozen pages earlier, because I'm so sensitive to bias against them. In this instance, I kept bending over backwards to excuse, diminish, justify statements as being of the characters and not the author's perspective. I ran out of excuses.

I appreciate that reasonable people can disagree about whether this novel
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Rachael McDiarmid
What an extraordinary book. It sure packs one hell of an emotional punch. Actually I think there is too much emotion running through my body to write a review! To see Gaza, to see the Palestinians, through these characters and the stories that weaved throughout the book, from generation to generation, was indeed something special. This is a book for and about women, strong women, women who know what it means to endure, to love, to live. The men are there, in the background, and part of the stori ...more
s
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-must-reads
As May the 15th marked the day of Nakba (the catastrophe) and the 1948 exodus of Palestinians from their ancestral homeland, now seems a good time to review Susan Abulhawa’s latest novel, The Blue Between Sky and Water. Set in Palestine, it follows the lives of the Baraka family from Beit Daras to Gaza. In the wake of exile, as the family disperse across the world, a beautiful story of kinship and fractured roots unravels through the novel’s main female characters Nazmiyeh and Nur. It is a compo ...more
RoseMary Achey
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
From the author of Mornings in Jenin

Most American's only know of Gaza from what they see on the nightly news. Unfortunately, much of the news is colored by the fact the United States and Israel are strong allies.

The Blue Between Sky and Water takes the reader into Gaza on a micro level. We join a multi-generational Palestinian family living in a Gaza refugee camp. We celebrate their joys and suffer their losses. This book will greatly expand your empathy and understanding toward the Palestinian
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Sofia
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The truth is there are not enough stars for this book, so I will suffice with 5. The fear I had with this book was, "would it live up to Susan Abulhawa's previous book, Mornings in Jenin?" I had really enjoyed that book and been deeply moved. Could Susan really do it again? The Blue Between Sky and Water did not achieve what Mornings in Jenin did, it completely and utterly surpassed it!

The entire time I was reading this book, I had a lump in my throat, and was often moved to both tears and laugh
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Lolly K Dandeneau
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the other side of the story, so to speak- about refugees forced into the Gaza strip. Nazmiyeh is the matriarch, and we follow generations of the family as they suffer the humiliations and struggles of displacement (exile really). With a daughter sick with cancer and cut from resources (medicine included) she will turn to the beekeepers wife for healing. But it is more than just a story about horrific history, there is no doubt it has shaped and destroyed the family in different ways. The ...more
Amber
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pain seeps through the pages of this book but so does a shimmer of hope, defiant joy, humanity in the face of banality of existence and of love.
As for readers of Mornings in Jenin looking for comparison: this is a story in its own right, a book that uses multiple first person narrators, lacks the Israeli perspective (unlike Mornings in Jenin, there r no jewish characters or portrayals). It is exponentially a book strongly rooted in the depths of matriarchal culture of Palestine exploring the po
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Calzean
The Western media and Governments paint Palestinians as the bad guys. But they are people and this book so movingly relates the lives of one Palestinian family from the time of establishing Israel to today. The family came from simple farming and fishing stock and held centuries long customs and beliefs focused on God and the family. There is superstition and the evil eye to be avoided. Forced to live in Gaza they hang on to their dignity and traditions waiting for the day they can live peaceful ...more
Dem
Oct 01, 2015 added it
Am going to put this aside for the moment and hope to come back to it at some stage as its just not holding my attention right now.
Asma
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
[5/5] No words could possibly convey how much I loved this book . Susan Abulhawa has done a remarkable job at writing this phenomenal and breathtaking novel
RitaSkeeter
Jul 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, contemporary
Although I have Mornings in Jenin on my kindle ready to read, it was this book - Abulhawa's second novel - that I read first. Abulhawa writes with a distinct style, and I'll be interested to see if this is also the case in Mornings or if it is peculiar to this novel.

This book opens with families leaving their ancient farms for Gaza as their homes are invaded. Those who are sensitive to reading about sexual assault should be aware there is a distressing rape scene, as well as other violence com
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Gotherella BioVenom
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was amazing and heartbreaking all at the same time.

To read about such horrific events that are not fictional.
To read about a family going through so much negative events, but to stay together, to keep helping people and to just keep their heads up.
It was so amazing.

I cried like a baby several times, not going to lie :p

This book is really an eye opener to the culture of these refugees and an insight into their lives.
I love that every character in this has their own strength, and that they us
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Miss Banana
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am woefully ignorant about this part of the world in any time period -- most of our history is made up of European and American conflict. This book painted a beautiful and painful picture of family and tradition and history of one family stretched so thin and it was a wonder they didn't break.

I have also not cried so much while reading a book in a very long time.
Walaa
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I ever read in my whole life...I recommend this book for anyone who is interested to live the life of Palestinian people in Gaza Strip..It's about the suffering of Palestinian people inside Gaza and outside it..I lived every word in this book...I'd love to meet Susan Abulhawa soon to thank her about her words about my beloved home and country <3 ...more
Hermien
May 31, 2015 rated it did not like it
I really liked Mornings in Jenin and was looking forward to this book. I made three concerted efforts to get through it and made it to half way through the book, but decided it was just too overly sentimental for me and life is too short to read a book you are not enjoying.
Jenny
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A brilliant read. I would give it 6 stars. Very powerful stories of a war torn Gaza. The book will stay with me for some time. It has left me with many questions as to why the world stands by and watches (and the U.S. supports) the invasion of Palestine by Israel.
Deepika
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was painful, magical, and everything in-between. My blog on the book: http://worncorners.com/2016/01/04/the... ...more
Jessica M
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favourite books that I’ve read this year. Have I mentioned how much I love reading historical fiction?

The Blue Between Sky and Water is about four generations of powerful Palestinian women in Gaza. The women are strong, resilient, passionate, and they put their family first and they aren’t afraid to make sacrifices to protect their own.

A Palestinian family is violently pushed from their ancient farming village of Beit Daras and they try to reconstitute themselves in a refugee c
...more
Reem Amer
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
•"It was enough to hear "this land will rise again". They grabbed those final words of hope and inhabited them until their final days"


•"People are part love, part flesh and blood, and part everything else"

•"War changed people. It created cowardice and bravery and produced legends"

•"Stories matter. We are composed of our stories. The human heart is made of the words we put in it."


•"The words become solid objects the moment they hit the air"

•"The most luminous light is found at the other end of th
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Ellie M
Sep 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Thanks to Netgalley for providing this review copy.

This is the story of four generations of Palestinian women, who survive through some extraordinary circumstances. There are scenes of sexual violence and child abuse, which some readers may find difficult to read.

What I liked about this book was that it described periods of history I was aware of but knew little details about. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is ongoing, and innocent people are still suffering, and this was the story of those in
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Kelly
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reading-room
What a amazing and captivating book, I was unable to put it down, the book tells the story of a family in Palestine before the war begins, and with the beginning of the war so do the atrocities. This book is heartbreaking and heartwarming all wrapped together in the story of a families love. Be warned there are triggers in here that are very difficult issues (rape, child molestation), but is an engaging read regardless. It is definetly the kind of book that I could easily read again and again an ...more
Marcy
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again Susan Abulhawa takes my breath away. This time her story is set in Gaza, and like her previous novel, there are four generations of a family who help to narrate Palestine from before the nakba until the very present. Setting this novel in Gaza is brilliant for so many reasons, not the least of which is the way it enables her to illustrate the limits of freedom and the ongoing nakbas that Palestinians in Gaza endure. The characters are moving and powerful and so full of love, but it's ...more
Farah Abbas
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved the book! It made me cry, made me laugh and I felt that I lives in their pain for a while.
Foxglove
Aug 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
A thinly veiled political rant disguised as fiction. Every single Palestinian female is painted in the most noble light, while Abulhawa veers into Goebbels-level stereotypes against Jews (besides one soldier who gives a stick of gum to a child) Even more purple prose abounds, at one point, going into all caps lock.

And the ending? Marry a second cousin? Sure, that's feminist.

Seriously, read an action fiction writer like Yasmine Khadra who is just as critical of Israel but actually has nuance.
Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا
I got this book as a gift from a dear friend when I first started blogging about books a year or so ago, I was surprised to learn that the girl on my cover is none other than my own cousin Bareeq! How cool is that? It's fate! I can't wait to read it.

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andreea
“Stories matter. We are composed of our stories. The human heart is made of the words we put in it. If someone ever says mean things to you, don’t let those words go into your heart, and be careful not to put mean words in other people’s hearts.”

In The Blue Between Sky and Water, Susan Abulhawa explores in a masterfully family saga the consequences of the brutal mass evacuation from Palestine across other continents throughout many generations, following at the same time the stories of some
...more
Jenna
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Blue Between Sky and Water is a beautifully written, emotional and powerful book! It tells the story of a multi-generational Palestinian family, forced to leave their ancestral home when the Israelis brutally take over in 1948, forcing them to live as refugees. The story is told from the point of view of a young boy, but mainly focuses on the women of his family, his grandmother, mother, sister, and a cousin who was born in America but returns to Gaza in search of family and a home. No matte ...more
Kathe Coleman
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Blue Between Sky and Water Susan Abulhawa

“A story of powerful, flawed women; of relocation, separation and heartache; of renewal, family, endurance, and love. Susan Abulhawa brings a raw humanity and delicate authority to the story of Palestine in this devastatingly beautiful tale.”

The Blue Between Sky and Water is set in Palestine, it follows the lives of the Baraka family from Beit Daras to Gaza over a sixty year period starting May 15, 1948. The prose is rich, verbose, evocative and power
...more
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Also Susan Abulhawa
(Arabic: سوزان أبو الهوى)

susan abulhawa was born to refugees of the 1967 war when Israel captured what remained of Palestine, including Jerusalem. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her daughter. She is the founder and President of Playgrounds for Palestine, a children’s organization dedicated to upholding The Right to Play for Palestinian children. Her debut novel, Mornin
...more

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