My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti is nothing short of breathtaking. The opening scene involves an Arab Israeli toddler dying in a mine field set-up by the Jewish military is gut-wrenching. The family’s pain is palpable and the detail is gruesome, yet from that moment I could not put the book down and I knew I had to finish it. There was something in those pages that would matter in my life. And it was true.
The novel follows Ichmad Hamid from his twelfth birthday until he is an elderly man. He grows up as an Arab Israeli ousted from his home by the Jewish population looking for a land to call their own. He is gifted with a genius IQ, but his situation does not leave much room for education. Studying isn’t a priority when food, shelter, and life are on the line.
Ichmad grows up in fear of the enemy and with each death of a family member at the hands of the military he learns to hate the Jews. When his mathematical prowess earns him a spot at Hebrew University, the hate that has become ingrained in Ichmad’s being is put to the test. He soon learns that politics and hate have no place in academia.
I won this book through a free Goodreads Giveaway and I was taken aback by this novel. I did not expect to read something so moving. Corasanti has written a novel that I will return to over and over throughout my lifetime because each time I read this book I know I will take away a new lesson.