Mornings In Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
This powerful story traces the life journey of four generations of a Palestinian family from the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 until the early 1980s.
In doing so, it covers a great many remarkable and confronting events. The book begins just prior to the Nakba of 1948 when a huge number of Palestinian Arabs fled or were forced from their farms and homes in what had become Israel. It traces the movement of the Abulheja family, from a contented life in the ancestral home among the olive groves into a very different and desperate existence as war refugees in the village of Jenin.
The central character is Amal, grand-daughter of the family patriarch and we follow her experiences closely from her birth in the mid-1950s, through her childhood in a refugee camp, to the finding of love and a child raised in America, to the final chapter, again set in Jenin. The story intertwines fact and fiction in a most moving and unsettling way as all members of Amal’s family face their own tribulations and losses.
It needs to be acknowledged that the subject matter is controversial and that the viewpoint is Palestinian. However the storyline is riveting and gut wrenching and remains an outstanding read. An open mind is certainly called for as well as a willingness to explore the troubled history of the people of the region. My first experience with this story was listening to the sound recording and I felt the reader’s beautiful rendition captured the atmosphere superbly.
If your preference is for light-hearted escapism this may not be the book for you. However should you take it on it will certainly raise awareness of the life challenges of the Palestinian people through these troubled decades.