Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review - The Almond Tree

Title: The Almond Tree.
Author: Michelle Cohen Corasanti.
Publisher: Garnet Publishing.
Year of Publication: 2013.
  Format: E-book.
Pages: 352.
Genre: Historical Fiction, War, Contemporary.
Blurb: Here.

I had received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an unbiased opinion.

My Thoughts:
I am not sure whether I am a fan of war books, but this genre highly ignites my curiosity. I'm not saying that by reading a war genre book, I understand the trauma the people are subjected to. What it does is, it gives me a peek, the tip of an iceberg. It makes me feel humbled and thankful. Once in a while we come across a book so profound and riveting that it makes you stop dead in your tracks! The Almond Tree is a perfect example. The author weaves a heart- rending tale set on a pragmatic premise. The story does not waste time making the readers to get comfortable. The story is uncomfortable and tragic. It begins with a catastrophic event and had me shell-shocked and fully attentive.
The plot unfolds from Ichmad Hamid's point of view. The eldest son in a large Palestinian family caught up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With no land or a decent roof above their heads, the family still manages to remain happy with whatever meagre means they have, until Ichmad's father is wrongfully arrested. 
Ichmad is a mathematical genius. Forced to take on the sole responsibility for his family to survive, he has to discontinue his studies.  After toiling all day and studying at nights, Ichamd is offered a once in a life time offer where he gets a scholarship to study in a Hebrew University and later move to America.

 His mother wants him to keep working so that the family can be taken care of and younger brother Abbas, is enraged at the idea of  Ichmad having any associations with the Israelis. His imprisoned father encourages him to go pursue his dreams. Even though he does go after his dreams, there are repercussions; a price to pay. The story did remind me of The Kite Runner. It is similar yet so much different. 
The author has done a commendable job accentuating the unrest between Israel and Palestine. The general attitude among the people is portrayed wonderfully. She handled the trauma faced by the people to a deeply intimate level. The characters were well developed, their point of views and opinions were well described. 
The story spans over 50 years. To contain the 50 years in a book without boring the readers, there would be a few bumps regarding the smoothness in the transition of the story. There are few abrupt turns in the story line. However these shortcomings can be easily overlooked by the sheer magnitude of the story.
It’s not just the life of Ichmad but also the story of his brother, Abbas who worked as hard as Ichmad for the family. One grew up to be more broad minded and the other nursing a fierce hatred. There is more to the story than this, but I don't want to give out any details. The Almond Tree is one of the most fascinating and powerful books I have ever read. A book which would make you think, a plot which would make you cry, endure heartache, laugh and rejoice at the goodness in humanity. I would highly recommend this book to everyone.

My rating:

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