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The Blue Between Sky and Water by Susan…

The Blue Between Sky and Water (2015)

by Susan Abulhawa

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Mornings in Jenin was one of my all-time favourite novels and made a huge impact on me when I read it. It was one of the most accessible explanations of the Palestinian-Israeli struggle that I had read. So I was most excited to find that Susan Abulhawa was coming to our Literary Festival and that she had a new book out. Shamefully that was last year and I have still not written my review.

The Barakas family is evicted from their home in village of Beit Daras in 1948 and travel with just portable luggage to a refugee camp outside Gaza.

"...She made her way in the village, walking through walls of fear. The air was heavy, almost unbreathable, and people moved in fitful motions, as if unsure that one leg would follow the other. Women hurried with bundles balanced on heads and children hoisted on hips, pausing occasionally to adjust each. Children struggled to keep pace with their elders, who pulled them by the arms. Bewilderment carved lines in every face that Nazmiyeh passed, and despite the noise and chaos around her, she thought she could hear heartbeats pounding on chest walls."

The strength of the women holds the family together across three generations, even beyond the borders into the US. Nazmiyeh, the matriarch is empowering in the face of extreme hardships and the love that young Nur has for her grandfather is deeply touching.

This novel tackles the after-effects of becoming a refugee; the trauma, the loss of pride, the poverty and the separated families, trying to make ends meet in a canvas and corrugated-iron city when you are used to living amongst your own fields and orchards and tending your own animals.
The author is the daughter of displaced Palestinians, so she writes from close to the source, using first-hand reminiscences.
The balance between the horror and pain versus the love and support makes this book a really special read. and I highly recommend it. ( )
  DubaiReader | Feb 25, 2017 |
This covers three generations of a Palestinian family living in Gaza. It looks at the dislocation of these people from their historic home and their resilience.
This is another beautiful story from this writer. My understanding of the plight of the Palestinian people is increasing. This is why I read. ( )
  HelenBaker | Oct 21, 2015 |
I have now read three books about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict in a short period of time. This is very pro Palestinian and rightfully so as the author's father was a freedom fighter and she herself is actively involved in an organization to help the children of Gaza. Regardless, this is a very well though out and researched novel.

It opens with a family in Beit Daras and this first part is written in stream of consciousness, when the Israeli military invades the village and forces the villagers they have not killed on to Gaza. There is one very violent rape scene, so be warned. People die or are killed on the way, the rest attempt to make new homes, gather their remaining family members close.

I loved the strong women in this novel, the wonderfully effective use of magical realism, and the folklore of their culture. It is hard not to sympathize with these people, they just want a better life for their families. It spans to America and back and will see one family member returning home, to a family she does not know. Plus, there is always hope, the book ends on an hopeful note and the characters are beautifully drawn.

It is amazing to see people who have lost everything, start again, find love again, laugh through their tears and pain. Because isn't that the way of it, within the fanatical groups in a culture are those who just want to raise their families, just live, maybe just like us.

ARC from Netgalley. ( )
  Beamis12 | Sep 30, 2015 |
I cannot say enough about this book. It sucked me in and wouldn’t let me free until I had read every page. This story of a family in Palestine, over the course of several generations, during the hostile takeover of Gaza by Israel, provided a very intimate look at what it was & still is like for the Palestinians in that part of the world. To be almost a prisoner in your own country and to suffer through some of the humility (being strip searched before visiting an imprisoned family member) or lack of proper amenities that each and every human being should have access to.
There were times that I laughed and cried for this family that spanned four generations and, at times, different parts of the world.
I am disappointed to learn of some of the terrible things that the refugee’s suffered through at the hands of the Jews. There was rape, physical harm, murder, and imprisonment. All experienced by this one family. I admired the women for their strength and enjoyed some of the supernatural additions to this book.
The characters, particularly Nazmiyeh, the matriarch of the family, were entertaining and thought provoking. There was Nur, who was separated from her family, and Khaled, who put together the missing pieces of their family puzzle, the beekeeper’s wife who also played a matriarch role without having any biological children of her own, and so many more characters you will get to know and love throughout this story.
The family unity and strong love help them survive the toughest of times. I highly recommend this book and will be passing along my copy for others to enjoy. ( )
  megk11676 | Sep 24, 2015 |
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When our history lounged on the hills, lolling in sylvan days, the River Suqreir flowed through Beit Daras
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My great-khalto Mariam collected colors and sorted them.
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In the small Palestinian farming village of Beit Daras, the women of the Baraka family inspire awe. Nazmiyeh is brazen and fiercely protective of her clairvoyant little sister, Mariam, with her mismatched eyes, and of their mother, Um Mahmoud, known for the fearsome djinni that sometimes possesses her. When the family is forced by the newly formed State of Israel to leave their ancestral home, only Nazmiyeh and her brother survive the long road to Gaza. Amidst the violence and fragility of the refugee camp, Nazmiyeh builds a family, navigates crises, and nurtures what remains of Beit Daras’s community. But her brother continues his exile’s journey to America, where, upon his death, his granddaughter Nur grows up alone, in a different kind of exile, the longing for family and roots eventually beckoning her to Gaza.
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