The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen CorasantiThe Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti is a gripping novel that captures a perspective to the western world isn’t often exposed: that of an Arab boy living on Israeli-occupied land.

Young Ichmad is faced with being the man of the family when his father is sent to prison, but his incredible abilities in math and science are not to be denied. Soon a former teacher pushes Ichmad to abandon manual labor and further his studies in order to help his poor, destitute family, still living in a tent since Israeli soldiers had destroyed their house.

Over his mother’s protests but with his father’s encouragement, Ichmad goes to university on a scholarship and learns not only about math and science, but also about humanity, kindness, and love, crossing ethnic borders in ways not everyone in his family celebrates. The Almond Tree is full of emotion, especially sadness and loss, but by the end becomes an uplifting and inspiring tale.

Corasanti, who spent many years living in this troubled area, humanizes and provides context to a conflict that many only know from afar and through mainstream media outlets in a way few others have. Her personal desire for peace among Palestinians and Jews in the Middle East shines through, and one can only hope that many, many will read this book and find it not only moving but also educational.

Others have commented that the book is reminiscent of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns (I loved both), and I agree to an extent, but I found the writing in The Almond Tree much less lyrical, more direct, simple, and almost cold in parts. I don’t find that to be a flaw, however, as the style works quite well with Ichmad’s story.

The fact that Corasanti is a Jewish-American makes her words in presenting this perspective all that much more powerful, and I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this part of the world and/or stories of humanity and redemption.

Four out of five espresso cups!

** NOTE: I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley; the opinions expressed are my own. The link to the book in the post above is an affiliate link, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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