I won this book in a book giveaway hosted on Anu Reviews. I am so glad I participated.
With so many good reviews, it took me almost two months to touch the book as I felt intimidated by the response it received. Would I be able to understand the way other understood? Social media, reviews are good to read but sometimes, it also creates a lot of pressure on reviewers to recreate the magic of the book in a gist. It is like 100 hands are guiding you to read a book, but no! I did not want to be forced to read it. I never read a book out of compulsion or as a favour.
How do I read this book, I wanted to read yet did not want to touch it out of compulsion.
So, finally, I took the no social media pledge where I would be accessing social media only once a week, I then found it more relaxing to read the book. Alright, back to the book.
This book begins to tell a story that starts in the time of violence and war in Palestine 1955 and spans up to 2009 where violence is still present in Gaza. It is narrated by the protagonist of the book, a Palestinian Ahmed Hamid. Ahmed Hamid idolizes Einstein and loves physics. He is extremely good at creating science equations in everyday scenarios and mentally solving them. His father, whom he calls as Baba is an honest, righteous and a peace-loving man who supports him. On the contrary, his mother and brother, Abbas do not strongly believe in the power of peace.
In the face of continued violence by the Israelis, Baba is arrested for a silly mistake committed by Ahmed Hamid. However, when he confesses it to Baba, he asks him never to reveal it to anyone. With this emotional burden, Ahmed, the eldest son in the family, further ill-treated is forced to work along with his younger brother, Abbas. Ahmed still creates physics problems in his mind and solves it. One fine day, fate shines and he is selected after a tough process to be educated at the university, from where his affair with physics begins. With constant motivation from his Baba who Ahmed visits every month in Jail, Ahmed pursues physics and his love for it with a higher responsibility.
Abbas on the other hand, develops deeper hatred for the Jews and the Israelis and detests Ahmed’s decisions in being a research assistant under an Israeli Professor. As he progresses as a physics student and as the time in the book progresses, Ahmed faces humility, misfortune but he uses education and his exemplary work to combat where as Abbas moves on to befriend violence.
What happens to Ahmed and Abbas and their family? Will education restore peace? Is Hatred the solution? Answering such questions in this visually compelling book and images that at least forced me to shut the book many a times before finally completing it, Almond Tree is a book to be read, understood and to be shared with everyone who believes in the power of education and peace.
I began glancing at the cover page of the book “The Almond Tree” and made me hungry as I love almonds. The shape, the way it tastes…yum! But reading through the lines of the book and visualizing them did not leave a happy taste. I shut the book to take breaks. I visualized the characters, the pain, the heat they faced.
If you’re wondering why it’s called the almond tree, like a fan I would say, read it!
I wish I could meet and congratulate the author, Michelle Cohen Corasanti on writing a book like this. May you write more books. May your pen keep flowing. May your computer never hang up!
Read this review on Nevedita’s website: http://nnivedita.com/reviews/the-almond-tree/