Review of 'The Almond Tree'
Michelle Cohen Corasanti has a BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an MA from Harvard University, both in Middle Eastern Studies. She also holds a law degree. A Jewish American, she has lived in France, Spain, Egypt and England, and spent seven years living in Jerusalem. She currently lives in New York with her family. The Almond Tree is her debut novel.
‘The Almond Tree’ a novel based on the conflict, going on between Palestine and Israel, known as most intractable conflict. The conflict which started in late 1940s, still bangs the world. A wonderful story has born from this war and it is ‘The Almond Tree’ and it is a work, which can make reader cry and smile at a time. It is story of a child Ahmed Hamid, who has witnessed only deaths from the day he got understanding of life and death. Amidst the chaos and hide and seek with life and death, he is living with his family, known as a bright student and boy in his village. Things turns upside down when his father is held as terrorist due to Ahmed’s small mistake and things change for the whole family. With the progress of novel, Abbas’s fall and crippled health makes him extreme hater of Israel and Jews, which continues to the sunset of his life. Somehow Ahmed’s intelligence becomes his ladder into world of higher education which earns him respect in Jewish world and his point of view for them changes.
Ahmed Hamid: An Arab boy, who grows up to be a researcher in Harvard University amidst the war between Palestine and Israel. During this journey he passes through many turmoil but overcomes them and takes up his family’s all duties perfectly.
Professor Sharon: In the beginning a typical Jew, who hates Arabs but later on in novel his character takes some turns.
Ahmed’s baba: The only source of inspiration for Ahmed is his father. He is the only person who provides unconditional support and courage to Ahmed. He is an oasis for Ahmed in this dessert of life.
Abbas Hamid: Brother of Ahmed Hamid, but totally different from him in nature. His extreme hatred for Israelis is the result of his sufferings which resulted into crumpled body. His character, too has various shades and changes in novel.
Ahmed’s mama: Typical Arab woman, who has suffered a lot in her life and is happy for the son who is fighting against Israelis and disapproving elder son’s marriage with a Jewish girl.
Teacher Mohammad: He becomes the North Star in life of Ahmed Hamid, who guides him to the world, where his life changes for forever.
Nora: Jewish lady, who is working for welfare of Arabs and she marries Ahmed but life takes some tragic turn for her as well as Ahmed.
Justice: Justice is love of Professor Sharon and she, too supports Ahmed full heartedly.
There are also minor characters like Nadia, Jameel, Zoher, and Khaled who play minor but important roles in life of our hero.
Writing Style: 5/5
A saga of Palestine through the words of a Jewish American is ‘The Almond Tree’. A novel which will change our point of view watching this war. Wonderful work by Michelle, quenching the pain and sufferings of people of Palestine. The title of the novel also goes with jorney of Ahmed in his educational life as after passing of year or two Ahmed just like Almond tree starts earning wages for his family, which is result of his education. Making the reader not a third person but the victim itself. Ahmed’s sufferings makes one cry, Abbas’ hatred makes one grinding teeth and Khaled’s destiny makes us cry again. A work which will not allow the reader to put it down, before completing. Michelle has got wonderful art of storytelling and it is reflected through this work. This is the tale of inspiration and courage that good will and heart never fails. An Inspiring journey of a boy from tattered hut of El-Kouriyah village to a winner of Nobel Prize. This novel can be a life changing wand for Palestinians.
My rating for this work is 5/5.