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The Almond Tree Paperback – 30 Sep 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Garnet Publishing Ltd (30 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859643299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859643297
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 267,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

...an epic drama of the proportions of The Kite Runner, but set in Palestine. A story that grabs you from the first page and makes your heart go out to the Palestinians without pointing fingers at anyone. This novel is not a political lecture, but a gripping and compassionate work of fiction Peace will not result from any political negotiation table, neither in Madrid, nor Oslo. The miracle is happening thanks to a work of fiction; a novel (The Almond Tree) --Huffington Post, Spanish TV and Radio Host Guillermo Fesser

Corasanti's tale of resilience, hope and forgiveness is a must-read both for those who are stumbling through the Israeli-Palestinian minefield for the first time, and others who know its sorrows all too well. --Washington Report on the Middle East

If you enjoyed The Kite Runner or In the Shadow of the Banyan, you will want to read The Almond Tree --Carol Fitzgerald, co-Founder/President of The Book Report Network

About the Author

Michelle Cohen Corasanti is a former lawyer, trained in international human rights law. Her knowledge of the Israeli - Palestinian struggle comes from seven years of living in Israel, where she witnessed at first hand the struggles of the Palestinians, and heard their stories of one - room mud houses with no electricity, fathers imprisoned for decades, illiterate mothers unable to provide for their children, and small boys giving up school for manual labour. She married her Arab - Israeli husband in a traditional village wedding, and it was his story - of an incredible intelligence which took him out of the Middle East - that sparked her imagination for The Almond Tree.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Almond Tree; Review

This novel has been awarded five stars on amazon.com and given laudatory reviews, but this is the first review on amazon.co.uk. I think the book is more likely to appeal to a US than a British readership, though I would still recommend British readers to try it out and would be interested to know what they think of it.

Though the author is an American Jewish woman, the novel is narrated in the first person by an Israeli Palestinian man in his sixties, Ichmad Hamid, who tells us the story of his life from his boyhood. One of Corasanti's main aims is to give a human face to the statistics about killings of children, house demolitions, and the many other human rights abuses suffered by the Palestinians. In doing this she is very much to be commended. Evidently this human story has affected many people who previously had only considered the Israeli Jewish point of view - people such as Les Edgerton, a tutor on one of the 21 writing courses she attended in the course of working on this novel (again, going on 21 writing courses seems very American and not very British). Edgerton has written that, as a Christian Zionist, he initially disagreed entirely with the narrative, but came to realise that "there are always two sides to a question".

To sum up the plot very briefly: Ichmad's family go through terrible experiences - among other disasters, two baby sisters are killed, the family home is demolished and their father is wrongly imprisoned. Their mother is implacably opposed to Israeli Jews as a result of this suffering. In contrast, their father is a saintly figure who refuses to hate his oppressors, only saying "if they only could realise that we're all the same".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read a lot of new books. A hundred and fifty in the past eighteen months. This is the only one I'll never forget.
The story concerns Ichmad Hamid, a Palestinian born at the same time as the State of Israel, the adversity of his life and how he overcomes every obstacle the occupying forces put in his way, going from life in a refugee tent to incredible career success.
I am the widow of a Palestinian so I tend to approach such stories with a degree of cynicism but this one knocked every misgiving I had out of the water. It has to be made into a movie! It has to be allowed to play its part in changing the situation in the Middle East. I recommend this book to everyone who's mystified about what's going on there and wants to learn about the history of the region.
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By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
There is no doubt that this is an important book, and by writing it Michelle Corasanti has done the Palestinian people an enormous service. Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa is also a searing indictment of Israel, and a must-read for anyone who wants to understand more about the conflict, but what makes The Almond Tree unique is that it is written by a Jewish writer, who uses her first-hand experience to lambast the Israelis for what they have done, and continue to do, to the Palestinians. Corasanti hopes that the very fact that she is Jewish may have a far-reaching impact on her co-religionists and possibly encourage them to re-examine the conflict and their entrenched opinions about the rights and wrongs of the situation.
The Almond Tree is the moving and often heart-breaking story of Ichmad Hamid, a poor Palestinian boy living under the Israeli occupation of his homeland, who manages to escape his family's poverty by means of his mathematical genius. His rise to fame and wealth could seem a little far-fetched but is in fact based on a real life person, whom Corasanti knows well.
But the road to success is long and painful, and the full degradations and humiliations of Palestinian life are devastatingly documented. Ichmad chooses a path of assimilation and cooperation, whereas his brother refuses to compromise and chooses the path of active resistance. Both storylines are equally engrossing and perceptively and accurately related.
From a purely literary perspective, I have a few reservations about the novel. Some of the characters are a little one-dimensional, and Ichmad's family sometimes seem just a vehicle to express the whole gamut of human rights abuses and personal tragedies that the Palestinian people as a whole suffer.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This well written book gave an excellent sense of the desperation felt by many Palestinians, that whatever they do, they are battling against impossible odds, yet, there is always hope. The only downside for me, was that Ichmad Hamid, who raises himself above all the desolation, only does so because of his supreme intelligence, which gives him exceptional mathematical abilities - I'd have preferred the hero to have been a more 'typical' member of the community.

Beginning in 1955, the novel starts with one of the most powerful opening chapters of any book I have read. Fortunately not all the following chapters are as harrowing, or I do not think I could have read it. Ichmad's family is close-knit, with a father who advocates love in the face of hardship and holds his family together with wisdom. But the hardships that they face would test any growing boys and their reactions to events differ.

The almond tree of the title became the centre of Ichmad's family's life after they had been evicted from their land to make space for the incoming Israeli population. it provided them with shelter, a source of food and income, and a view-point from which to watch their former land, now under Israeli occupation.

It is remarkable that the author is in fact Jewish, rather than Palestinian, as I had expected. She felt she could reach the largest number of people with her message by becoming a writer and I hope this book will become as well known as The Kite Runner and she may achieve her aim.

This book was provided free of charge in exchange for an unbiased review.
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