Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mornings in Jenin

My Favorite Flower!

There are three things I love to see when I open a book: a map, a family tree and a listing of chapter titles. Any one of those three things is enough to make me seriously consider a purchase. ---Maybe some smart marketing person can take that information and come up with a stupendously successful campaign. I can't be the only person swayed by those three things--- I'm not sure what the lure of those things are, but any one of them is enough to start to win me over. If there are all three at once? I am heading to the cash register immediately.

I recently finished reading Mornings in Jenin and it has chapter titles and a family tree. Once again those items were my good talismans. Mornings was originally published in 2006 as The Scar of David. I don't know how it came to be as the cover says "fully revised and edited" and then published in paperback by Bloomsbury U.S.A. but I don't need to know. I'm glad it happened.

Mornings opens dramatically. Amal, a Palestinian woman, is staring down the barrel of an Israeli soldier's gun. The story moves backward from that point but not with any loss of drama. In 1948, Amal's grandparents are working the same olive farm that their family has owned for generations. when they are forcibly relocated to the refuge camp of Jenin to make way for the new Jewish state. It's there that Amal was born into a family locked into grief and unanswered prayers. She grows up never having known the security of belonging somewhere. The lives of the three generations of this family dovetail the history of the Palestinians over the last sixty years. It is a brutal and potent history.

Author Susan Abulhawa has done an excellent job in humanizing the headline following events she incorporates into her novel. Here is a well rounded presentation of history through one family's eyes. There is good and bad on both sides, but this is the story a Palestinian family and their perspective takes center stage. Thanks to Abulhawa's skill Mornings is a moving story of adversity and politics.

Happy and maybe better informed

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