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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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26613142,770 (4.45)18
Member:rivergen
Title:The Almond Tree
Authors:Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Info:Garnet Publishing (2012), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

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The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti (2012)

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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. ( )
  Bonnie_Ferrante | Sep 17, 2014 |
This story is heart wrenching, thrilling and thought provoking. A view of political and war torn Palestine and Israel from the point of view of the common people who are caught in between. Absolutely compelling! A must read!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  LiteraryChanteuse | Aug 30, 2014 |
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 | Aug 21, 2014 |
A Palestinian boy growing up in an occupied land has an aptitude for math. He gets the opportunity for an education and his conflicted adviser is an Israeli Jew. They both overcome many obstacles to become colleagues and research partners sharing in a Nobel. Told from the viewpoint of the boy, This work is am amazing glimpse into the life of the hunted and persecuted peoples of the Middle East. You will be enlightened upon reading this book. We all think we have endured struggle. Read this and then we'll talk about struggle. My thanks to the author and Goodreads for a complimentary copy ( )
  musichick52 | Jul 19, 2014 |
Recibí este libro gracias a Goodreads First Reads.

Corasanti ha logrado con este libro -y de manera espectacular, debo añadir- mostrarnos un mundo que generalmente se reserva a los hombres: el de los paises arabes en guerra.

Una de las historias más conmovedoras que he leído. En las primeras 08 paginas me hizo llorar por primera vez, asi de triste es. Pero tambien es totalmente hermoso. Trata de Ichmad, un joven palestino, que debe aprender a vivir con las consecuencias de sus actos -y en ese sentido me recordó un poco a [b:The Kite Runner|77203|The Kite Runner|Khaled Hosseini|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1309288316s/77203.jpg|3295919]- y que mientras lo hace aprenderá a perdonarse y a encontrar un amor que creía imposible de sentir luego de tanto dolor. Y trata del arbol de almendras, una señal de que pase lo que pase, siempre habrá esperanza.


( )
  Glire | Jul 7, 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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