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The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
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The Almond Tree (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

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29213738,453 (4.44)18
Member:needtoreadgottowatch
Title:The Almond Tree
Authors:Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Info:Garnet Publishing (2012), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Would Buy Print Copy, Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti (2012)

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I won this book as a goodreads giveaway.... And I am so happy that I did. This book was incredible. It was extremely well written, gripping, emotional and thought provoking... Everything that a good book should be. I loved it. ( )
  MiriamMartin | Dec 12, 2014 |
A very powerful book.

This well written book gave an excellent sense of the desperation felt by many Palestinians, that whatever they do, they are battling against impossible odds, yet, there is always hope. The only downside for me, was that Ichmad Hamid, who raises himself above all the desolation, only does so because of his supreme intelligence, which gives him exceptional mathematical abilities - I'd have preferred the hero to have been a more 'typical' member of the community.

Beginning in 1955, the novel starts with one of the most powerful opening chapters of any book I have read. Fortunately not all the following chapters are as harrowing, or I do not think I could have read it. Ichmad's family is close-knit, with a father who advocates love in the face of hardship and holds his family together with wisdom. But the hardships that they face would test any growing boys and their reactions to events differ.

The almond tree of the title became the centre of Ichmad's family's life after they had been evicted from their land to make space for the incoming Israeli population. it provided them with shelter, a source of food and income, and a view-point from which to watch their former land, now under Israeli occupation.

It is remarkable that the author is in fact Jewish, rather than Palestinian, as I had expected. She felt she could reach the largest number of people with her message by becoming a writer and I hope this book will become as well known as The Kite Runner and she may achieve her aim. ( )
  DubaiReader | Nov 10, 2014 |
***GoodReads Giveaway***

Despite the mixed reviews, I kept an open mind when I started reading this book. I thought it was an engaging read. A coming of age book with many ups and downs. It stared with a bang quite literally and never slowed down.
The politics was startling to me and didn't take away from the plot at all but quite enhanced it.

Overall a good read.. ( )
  nubian_princesa | Nov 6, 2014 |
WOW! I was so excited when I won this book on a Goodreads giveaway, BUT I never expected to be amazed by this debut novel! I have no idea if the historical accuracy of this book is factual, but the story is engrossing. I loved the addictive writing by Michelle. I was great reading a novel set in a different country with wonderful characters. It was a true reminder that most other countries are NOT like America! It is hard to put my feelings about this book into words, but I highly recommend reading it! I will definitely read future books by this author! ( )
  patsaintsfan | Nov 5, 2014 |
I finished this book two weeks ago but kept procrastinating writing the review because the subject matter was so huge. This is the story of Ichmad Hamid struggling to survive and protect his family in a hostile and cruel environment. The author, Michelle Cohen Corasanti, is a Jewish American who has lived in several countries and spent seven years in Israel. One thing that makes her story so fascinating, is that she writes from the viewpoint of the occupied Palestinians with depth, compassion, and insight.

Corasanti does not spend time explaining the complicated and lengthy history of the Israelis and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Instead, she brings us into the lives of a fascinating family whose conflicted opinions and actions mirror the complexities of the relationships between the two cultures. Ichmad works as hard as possible to provide for his family but knows that his talent with mathematics is the only true way out of extreme poverty and subjugation. His younger brother, already embittered by the brutalities forced upon them by the rulers and the death of his baby sister, suffers an unfair and shocking injury at the hands of an Israeli. He becomes a freedom fighter, a person referred to in the news as a terrorist. Ichmad's mother wants her children to keep their heads down and work like slaves in the hope that they may survive. His father, however, has dreams for his children, dreams of achievement and peace.

One character, Professor Sharon, hates Palestinians with a passion. Through hard work, honesty, patience, and brilliance, Ichmad is able to make a friend of an enemy. This, to me, is the true message of this book. No matter the history, no matter the pain, the only way for both Israelis and Palestinians to survive and prosper is to treat each other the way they wish to be treated. The golden rule was never more needed than it is in the Gaza Strip.

This isn't a preachy book nor does it spend a lot of effort trying to push a political agenda. It is a book about people, family, love, forgiveness, and hope. It is a book that will make you look at the media differently, make you question what you have believed in the news, and make your heart ache for both the oppressed and the oppressors. ( )
1 vote Bonnie_Ferrante | Sep 17, 2014 |
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Epigraph
"That which is hateful to you, do not unto another: This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary - [and now] go study." Rabbi Hillel (30BC - 10AD), one of the greatest rabis of the Talmudic era.
Dedication
To Sarah and Jon-Robert
To Joe who gave me the courage to embrace what I would have preferred to bury.To Joe who gave me the courage to embrace what I would have preferred to bury.
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Mama always said Amal was mischievous.
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Book description
In 2003, Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner unveiled a moving and inspirational story set amongst the history of modern Afghanistan. The beautiful story of the love between fathers and sons permeated throughout the novel and helped readers better understand the history and people of Afghanistan. This fall, Michelle Cohen Corasanti’s stunning debut The Almond Tree (Garnet; October 16, 2012; Trade Paperback Original; $14.95) sheds new light on the Arabs in Israel. An insightful and inspiring novel, The Almond Tree recasts a culture frequently seen in the news but often misunderstood. 

In a divided land where family sacrifices supersede individual dreams, The Almond Tree follows the life of a boy named Ichmad in a small rural village. Michelle Cohen Corasanti’s characters convey the spirit of a resilient culture through their actions, their relationships and, most convincingly, through Ichmad’s voice. From his overbearing mother to the death of a sibling, from the pressures of an inter-faith relationship to the fallout of discrimination, Ichmad confronts each challenge with remarkable strength and determination, whether it is political, religious or otherwise. Amidst a background of violence and poverty, this story of perseverance showcases the remarkable tenacity of the human spirit and offers a wholly original, inspirational tale that will remain with readers for years to come.

Cohen Corasanti’s novel brings humanity and clarity to the Arab-Israeli conflict, exploring themes of redemption, family sacrifice and the benefits of education and tolerance. Her personal experience of living in Israel for seven years while attending high school and obtaining her undergraduate degree in Middle Eastern studies from the Hebrew University lends the perspective, insight and ability to craft this story. The Almond Tree respectfully travels a controversial history and delivers an enriching experience that is a testament to the human spirit and a hope for peace.
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A tale of two Palestinian brothers, one full of anger and hate, the other trying to build a bridge through scientific endeavour. Gifted with a mind that continues to impress the elders in his village, Ichmad Hamid struggles with knowing that he can do nothing to save his friends and family. Living on occupied land, his entire village operates in fear of losing their homes, jobs, and belongings. But more importantly, they fear losing each other. On Ichmad's twelfth birthday, that fear becomes reality. With his father imprisoned, his family s home and possessions confiscated, and his siblings quickly succumbing to hatred in the face of conflict, Ichmad begins an inspiring journey using his intellect to save his poor and dying family. In doing so he reclaims a love for others that was lost through a childhood rife with violence and loss, and discovers a new hope for the future.… (more)

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