Janelle's Reviews > Mornings in Jenin

Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
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Jan 30, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: book-group-possibility, re-read, read-for-work

I read this book to preview it as a possibility for an upcoming book/film series in which my library will be involved (theme: conflict and peace in the Middle East). For me, it managed to be simultaneously informative and extremely moving.

Many other reviewers have noted that Americans tend to know a lot more about the Israeli side of the Israel/Palestine conflict. I agree, and add that I knew only the sketchiest outline of what has happened there in the 20th century. This book helped me fill in the blanks without completely overwhelming me with detail and horror (as some of the other books I've tried have done). It accomplishes this by telling the story of three generations of a Palestinian family over the 1941-2002 period. Yes, terrible things happen to many of the characters, as you would expect. But many wonderful and life-affirming things also happen. The characters (both Israeli and Palestinian) are complicated and layered, human rather than caricatures. Their connections brought me to tears many times while reading.

If you learn history better through fiction than nonfiction, I highly recommend this book as an introduction to Palestinian history over the last 70 years or so. I glimpsed a bit of myself within its pages, in the character of a young American, Lisa. One of the main characters, Amal, says of Lisa: "Her world was pastel colored, emotionally cushioned, financially solid and politically inconsequential" (169).

There is a lot more about this book on the website: http://morningsinjenin.com/.

Update March 2012: I re-read this because it did indeed become part of the Conflict & Resistance in the Middle East series at Gettysburg College. I enjoyed it a lot the second time around, but it seemed more emotional and even sentimental at times. I still think it's a great entry point for learning more about Palestine 1948-present, especially if you respond better to fiction than nonfiction. And I'm very excited that author Susan Abulhawa will be visiting our campus next month!
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Bonny (new)

Bonny Your wonderful review has really piqued my interest. I'm fairly ignorant about the subject, only knowing the highlights and keywords I've heard on NPR. Your last paragraph really sold me!


Janelle bonny wrote: "Your wonderful review has really piqued my interest. I'm fairly ignorant about the subject, only knowing the highlights and keywords I've heard on NPR. Your last paragraph really sold me!"

I just started re-reading this in preparation for a campus discussion next month. AND... the author will be visiting Gettysburg College on 4/19/12! I can't wait!


Ankit Agrawal Great review. I am one of those guys who understands history better through Fiction then Non-Fiction.

Seems like you have a lot of knowledge on this. Would you help me suggest a book on the same from Jewish POV?


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