The Almond Tree is the debut novel of Michelle Cohen Corasanti. I was quite intrigued by the fact that Corasanti is a female Jew who writes this book in the voice of a Palestine male! To begin with I was not sure if it could be done but after reading the book I have changed my opinion. If I had not known this beforehand, I would have never guessed.
The story is of Ahmad Hamid and his family. It is a story of hope set in incredible suffering. The backdrop of the book is the Palestine Israel conflict. The difference is in the portrayal of the conflict. It is about Ahmad’s family living in the land occupied by Israelis, it is about losing their siblings to bombs and mines.
It is about living in constant terror. It is about getting caught in the conflict where the father of the family ends up in jail. It is about children of 12 and less then supporting their family by working as construction labors. It is about possessing mathematical genius in middle of this chaos. It is about Ahmad’s journey from hard labor to a top American university and then back to Gaza and beyond.
This book was a hard read, not for the language. It was not for the plot either, for it is compelling. It is a hard read for the sufferings described. This book is a tearjerker. All the characters of the book are developed with care. But it is the character of Ahmad’s father that really shook me to the core. He gets such a raw deal in life, yet he inspires Ahmed to hope and continue on the path peace. That would require serious courage, a courage almost beyond human power. For me it was a compelling read, I finished it in a few sittings. The message that stayed with me from this book was to never give up!
PS. I was given a copy of this book to review.