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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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30714436,351 (4.41)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

Work details

The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti (2012)

  1. 10
    I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey by Izzeldin Abuelaish (Anonymous user)
  2. 00
    The Hunt for the Engineer: How Israeli Agents Tracked the Hamas Master Bomber by Samuel M. Katz (LibStre)
    LibStre: Historical fiction piece detailing how seemingly minute decisions create long-term, adverse scenarios. Details the life of another gifted Palestinian student whose life path could have been the same as this one, but the story ended quite differently. A gripping read!… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads.
****
The book tells the story of Ichmad Hamid's story and life between the ages of 7 and mid 60s. I have to be honest, before reading this book, all I knew about the Middle East was that there were ongoing conflicts, but just didn't know how far back it went or how serious the situation was.

Oh my god. Almost immediately off the bat (only 3 pages in), the first of a series of violence occurs and I am immediately pulled in, with the need to know more. The more I read, the more fascinated and horrified I became by all the prejudice, violence and racial segregation themes that kept reoccurring. And despite everything that the Palestinians faced, Ichmad's father (Baba) kept his optimism and open mindedness and encouraged Ichmad to do the same. Knowledge, determination and hope kept Ichamd through hard times, and eventually landed him the greatest honour of all, the Nobel Peach Prize, which he received alongside his one time tormentor and eventual friend Menachem Sharon.

It was interesting to read how Ichamd and Abbas, grew up in similar situations, turned out so vastly different yet in the end almost the same. Ichmad became a brilliant scientist in his own right, who never forgot his family (through his continued financial contributions), understood early on the consequences of hatred and violence and who had put aside his difference to work with the 'enemies'. Whereas Abbas, he fed upon his hatred and became associated with 'terrorists'. However, it is not until Abbas tells his side of the story that we understand that the group he represents is not necessary 'terrorists' but a group of people fighting injustice and to free the Palestinians.


I felt that in the first 2 parts of the book, the history of violence and this separation thing was only touched upon briefly, to fill in the blanks for the time being. Whereas, in the latter 2 parts of the book, a lot more in depth details were provided about the 'war' and fighting between Middle Eastern countries since the 2000s. I would have liked it if a little more history was provided in the first 2 parts of the book. Also, while the main focus was on Ichamd and Abbas (to a certain extent), I would have loved to hear more about the secondary characters, like Justice, Yasmine or Teacher Mohammad (they are inspirational in their own way). After all we did get to know Menachem Sharon's back story.

Overall, this book briefly dived into the premise of the hostile situations in the Middle East, the trials some people faced throughout the years, and how a seed of hope or hatred and ultimately blossom into something much more in the end. And that propaganda was and still is a very, very powerful tool, so it is always a good idea to hear and see both sides of the story because you make up your mind about something. This is a wonderfully written book, with details that capture you or leave you in disbelief, and leaves you with an optimistic hope for the future of those in the Middle East or anywhere with conflict and segregation. I would definitely recommend this book because it gets your thinking, places you in that situation, and makes you question things. I know for sure that after reading this book, I will be reading a lot more about the history of the conflicts in the Middle East. ( )
  Dream24 | Jan 6, 2016 |
I received this book as a First Read from GoodReads. Thanks GoodReads!

Prior to reading this book, I was sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, so the story plays into my sympathies. I really liked learning more about the recent history in this part of the world. This is an important story to tell. I like the themes of hope and peace, acceptance of others in the face of hate, and the role of education. I like the idea of different viewpoints on the same topic from the same "side".

The start of the book is quick, merciless, engaging. The level of destruction decreased after the first part, and the writing slowed a bit but was still engaging. Toward the end there were points that I think could have been explored more and then the end was just kind of anti-climatic. I'm debating between 3 and 4 stars, because I really liked the first half of the book, the next part I liked but wasn't quite as engaging, and then the end was okay.

A little more specific on why only 3 stars (possible spoilers):

Sometimes the characters were portrayed as too perfect. He's not just extremely intelligent or more intelligent than all his peers, he's a genius and can solve complex problems in his head. She's not just beautiful and intelligent, she's the top of her class. Another woman is also intelligent and beautiful, and then also wealthy but humble and a peace activist. I'm glad that all of the intelligent characters worked to increase their knowledge and studied hard, but did they all need to be the best?

Also, I happen to hate when characters fall in love at first sight. Our protagonist did twice. With descriptions of 'Light seemed to radiate from her. Spun-gold curls cascaded down her back. Her skin was luminous like the moon.' Now, I love my husband dearly, but he is not radiant. Nor has any person I ever dated or even wanted to date. And then they are of course love but the relationship and it's implications aren't given a chance to be explored before the author ends it. The non-love at first sight relationship indicated that our protagonist forgot his roots and is biased toward American ideals which I just can't believe. After living in a culture and in poverty for so long, how can he confuse traditional culture or style and poverty with ignorance? "Everything about (her) screamed ignorance. Her veil, her thick, unplucked eyebrows, her traditional robe... her teeth were yellow and crooked and she was plump." None of those traits indicate any level of knowledge or ignorance. After being subjected to so much prejudice, I expect him to not judge a person simply on appearance.

There were a few points that I thought could have been explored more or didn't make much sense at the depth they were given. There were relationships that if explored more could have moved the plot better and in more interesting directions than killing off a character. I like the idea of brothers having divergent views of the world, but I never really understood why. Did the other never write or talk to his father?

Overall, I like the story and the writing and the first 1/2- 2/3 of the book, but I don't know what happened at the end. It just seemed to peter out.


--- First thoughts---
I just started reading this book tonight. This is not a book to read before bed. I don't know when is a good time to read...

I've read 6 chapters: I like the writing and the story is engaging, but disturbing. ( )
  kparr | Dec 31, 2015 |
Quickly becoming my favorite author! Love the human emotion! ( )
  Jodeneg | Oct 23, 2015 |
Quickly becoming my favorite author! Love the human emotion! ( )
  Jodeneg | Oct 23, 2015 |
Note : I won this copy in the goodreads giveaway

I averted picking up this book for the cover and many reviews claimed that this book is another "Kite Runner" which is sure to flood me with heavy emotions. I entered the giveaway only because the summary promised serious emotions.I was in no predicament to read a book loaded with war sentiments especially involving a Jew nation. Finally, I packed the book to read during my recent vacation. What a colossal mistake. I was able to finish this book off straight in a day of travel.

The book was neither "loaded with emotions" nor "flooded" me with emotions. In fact, this book pales out in comparison to Khaleed Hosseini's Kite Runner. Our Protagonist Ahmed Hamid has a "supposedly" tough life thanks to the Isarel-Palestine war. He loses his childhood to tough physical work as his father is imprisoned due to his ignorance in sheltering weapons from rebels. He then goes on to become a physicist who eventually lands the holy grail of all prizes.

The book contained descriptions of violent war episodes in Palestine and towards the end, the very turbulent state of Gaza. In spite of describing some serious violent war episodes, the writer failed to convey any emotion.

I felt like reading a newspaper account of war which normally lacks the emotions and presents just the facts. To add to the agony of reading the droning war book, the writer sounded biased at every turn. I felt like I was reading a Nazi propaganda rather than a supposedly balanced book with unbiased opinions from both the sides. The writers comment and attempt to uncloak a long forgotten fact that " all are humans at the end of the day" simply fell flat due to the lack of a proper perspective.

The Characterization was so bland that I really didn't understand what motivated Ahmed to take up Physics or what motivated his brother Abbas's son to commit suicide. I really couldn't get the relationship between Ahmed and his second wife.

The writer was apparently in a hurry to finish off the novel (May be she got incessantly bored of her own writing :-P). The ending seemed so hung and didn't really make an impression.

The cover and the summary deserves a special mention - An almond tree instead of the face would have been better. The summary is highly misleading.

To sum it up, the book wasn't worth the amazing vacation time I invested and it a blasphemy to compare this book to "The Kite Runner". I do understand this writer is new to this whole business, but it doesn't give her the liberty to claim things that she hasn't delivered.

Verdict: Read if you are suffering from Insomnia and want a good sleep.
( )
  bookandink | Aug 19, 2015 |
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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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