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Archive: Other Books > Mornings in Jenin by by Susan Abulhawa 3.5 Stars Rounded to 4

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message 1: by Regina Lindsey (new)

Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments Spanning four generations of the Abulheja family between the years 1948-2002, Mornings in Jenin follows a Palestinian family as they are forced to abandon the ancestral olive farm in the wake of the UN's resettlement of Jews, creating the Jewish state. Forced from their home and driven to Jenin refugee camp young Ismael is ripped from his mother's arms during the march by a Jewish soldier to be raised by the Israeli and his wife as Daniel, a Jew. His twin brother, Yousef, grows in hatred as the years pass and joins the PLO. Younger sister, Amal, makes her way to America for an education. Yet, she still seems to inherit similar heartache and develops the same coldness as her mother. As their stories unfold, the history of three decades from the perspective of the Palestinian people are told.

The book is touted as, "A heart-wrenching, powerfully written novel that could do for Palestine what The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan." While a good book, Abulhawa is no Hosseini. She simply doesn't have the same mastery of storytelling as Hosseini. But, that doesn't mean it isn't a good book. I had a hard time deciding what to rate the book. The beginning and then end were a solid 4, maybe 4.5. The middle was more of a 3 - 3.5. I've seen critics bemoan the one-sidedness of the book. That's not my problem. This is not an analytical book of Middle East history. It is a fictional piece from Palestinian characters, and there are two sides to this history. I think it comes down to those of us who attracted to tales that "show rather than tell us". The beginning of the story when the patriarch is a young boy with a friendship with a young Jewish boy and Amal's mother is young and full of spirit and the ending when Amal's life comes full fit that criteria. But, the middle lacked that showing quality. There was a lot of historical events that occurred in the middle the author obviously wanted to include and this was the author's first novel. Hopefully, she will master that balance in future work. Additionally, one of the story lines felt a bit contrived.
I do like to document lines that resonate, and one in this book did in particular because its the reason I love history so much. History doesn't happen in a vacuum and your can connect dots backwards for generation after generation.

"The irony, which sank its bitter fangs into my mind, was that Mama, the mother who gave birth to David, also survived a slaughter that claimed nearly her entire family. Only the latter occurred because of the former, underscoring for me the inescapable truth that Palestinians paid the price for the Jewish holocaust. Jews killed my mother’s family because Germans had killed Jolanta’s”

Overall, it was a good read that provides an important part of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a focus on events that were overlooked by the world's media at the time they occurred. While not my favorite, I would recommend it to others.

Mornings in Jenin


message 2: by Sara (new)

Sara (mootastic1) | 770 comments Your review is intriguing. I may have to look for this book.


message 3: by Denizen (new)

Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments Regina wrote: "Spanning four generations of the Abulheja family between the years 1948-2002, Mornings in Jenin follows a Palestinian family as they are forced to abandon the ancestral olive farm in the wake of th..."

I bought this years ago but never seem to get to it. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any books I've read from a Palestinian perspective. I should try to move it up.


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