Rummanah Aasi
  Lake Forest High School has started a class called Middle Eastern Studies. Though the class is in its infancy, it is quickly gaining popularity, which makes me happy because it is a region that many do not know besides what they hear on the nightly news. I am usually asked to present and do an informal question and answer due to my religious background. I feel very honored to participate. During this session I am always asked how I feel about the Middle East conflict between Palestine and Israel. My answer is: "It's complicated", which may seem to be a cop-out but its how I honestly feel. The conflict is not simply black and white, but rather very complicated which is beautifully, yet hauntingly expressed in Susan Abulhawa's debut novel Mornings in Jenin.

Description: Four generations of the Abulheja family struggle to survive during more than sixty years of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, finding themselves on both sides of the fighting.

Review: Mornings in Jenin may be called the story of the citizens of Palestine, which many Americans may not be able to distinguish from the terrorists that they hear about in the news. The novel explores four generations of Palestinians living through the birth of Israel and the never ending war that follows. The story centers on Amal, a women who is born in a refugee camp. Her story is one of loss, love and redemption.
 As I mentioned earlier, I'm always asked how I view the war between these two nations. I am torn between both countries need to be a permanent homeland yet the way the state of Israel was forcefully created. Abulhawa demonstrates the common desire of both, but she does not give an answer of how to solve the conflict, which I don't think that was the purpose of this book. The purpose seems to let people, especially the West know the struggles of common Palestinians in the same way Khalid Hosseini opened up people's eyes about the horrors of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Though in my opinion Abulhawa's book is the better written of the two books with fully developed and complicated characters. 
  Although the book is fulled with heartbreak, there are glimmers of hope and happiness. Abulhawa makes a great effort to empathize with all sides of the conflict. This book will no doubt open your eyes and force you to think.  


Curriculum Connection: Middle East Studies

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language and scenes of sensuality throughout the book. There are also many disturbing images of bombings and raids throughout the book. While it may be okay for mature teens, I think this book would work better in an adult collection.


If you like this book try: Out of Place by Edward Said or Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat
2 Responses
  1. I loved this book and am glad you liked it too. My book group also really enjoyed it!


  2. It was very powerful, balanced, and informational book. There is a lot that I didn't know about the part of the Middle East and I'm glad that I picked it up. Hope to read more from this author.


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