Verdict: 5 Stars
As a book reviewer, I read a lot of content and I read most of it with a critical eye, looking for the finer points of the book to mention in my review and to help me determine its rating. It has been a very long time since a book pulled me in as far as The Almond Tree (Garnet Publishing) did, and an even longer time since a book has made me cry.
As an outsider to the situation between Israel and Palestine, it’s easy to fall victim to the ignorant belief that there are atrocities on both sides, that neither side’s leadership is innocent. But The Almond Tree doesn’t waste time in name calling or historical debate, it simply tells the story of one extraordinary family caught in the crossfire of politics and violence, a loving family that simply wants what every family around the world wants: a future for its children that doesn’t involve suffering.
Having lived his entire twelve years under Israeli occupation of his village, brilliant student Ichmad Hassid’s entire world explodes when his father is imprisoned for an act of so-called terrorism that he didn’t commit, and watches helplessly as soldiers blow up his house as punishment, leaving him as the man of the house to care for his mother and several younger siblings. Abandoning his schoolwork to take a labor job to feed them, Ichmad struggles against the hatred and violence of even his own countrymen, compounded by the foreign soldiers who torture the people both physically and emotionally.
Corasanti’s debut novel is an exercise in heartbreak, while demonstrating the hope and faith that people can cling to in the exercise of extreme suffering. It is an eye-opening glimpse into the other side of a story that so few people around the world get to learn.