Author: Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Publisher: Fingerprint Publisher
How often we all discuss about the world politics, the wars sitting around the coffee tables. We argue endlessly to express our views to convince others that we care about the atrocities which are being done on our fellow human beings. But a very few of us actually make an effort to bring out the truth, the story of pain, torture and injustice which is actually there in the world.
Like Khaled Housseni, Michelle Cohen Corasanti has done a brilliant job in bringing out the truth, which many of us have ignored for a long time. On one side Khaled helped us to know about the pain of the Afghanis, Michelle has made an attempt to tell us about the pain and torture which so many Palestinians had to go through over years. I couldn’t believe a Jew has written all this. For her to understand all this when actually she was on the other side of the table, and express that in a book must have been a difficult job. But what a brilliant work she has done. Not once she loses the command over the story, you are totally hooked to the book and there are no loose ends. It is a book which will bring tears to your eyes and sometimes you might even feel a shiver running through your body.
The Almond Tree is a story of Ahmed and his family, a Palestine family which is destroyed by the Israelis. The book covers a period from 1955, when Ahmed is a little boy and ends in 2009, when he has become a renowned scientist. Ahmed’s father is a man who believes in forgiveness and despite the fact that he is wrongfully convicted and tortured in prison; he doesn’t give up on hope. He motivated Ahmed to work hard and not to give up his studies. Ahmed, a little boy who has to shoulder the responsibility of his family becomes the man of the family at a very young age. At the age when he should be playing with toys and studying in school, he is working at the construction site working hard whole day so that he can feed his family. Ahmed is a brilliant student and when his school teacher offers to teach him, he grabs the opportunity and start studying under his guidance. So he is working in day and studying in night, but he never gives up. He has deep faith in his father and he believes that only forgiveness can bring peace to all, the Palestinians and Israelis.
But mind you Almond Tree is not a story for weak hearts. Family of Ahmed has to go through lots of struggle and pain before they rise like phoenix from the ashes. Little Amal is blown into pieces right outside her home, their house is destroyed, Ahmed’s other sister Sara chokes up because of the smoke gas and dies in his arms, it takes him more than a day to get permit to bury her. Abbas, his younger brother is cripples because an angry Iranian threw him from the building for no reason. His family is forced to live in a small tent fighting rain, cold and most importantly hunger.
How would you feel if you are not allowed to make home for yourself in your own land and you are required to get permit from the outsiders to do so? There is no limit to the torture of Israelis, how they strip down a little child and humiliate him endlessly and he has to go through that all because if he will refuse, he won’t be allowed to meet his father in prison. No one cares about the human rights, actually that’s the word which is not allowed to be even used there. Defenseless and harmless children and women are tortured and killed. The book brought tears to my eyes and I had to actually take some breaks while reading it because I couldn’t take the pain. So much is growing through the world and we are comfortably sitting in our homes doing nothing.
But what I liked most about the book is that there is always hope, things never remain the same. Everything is taken away from Ahmed but he never gives up. Not only he educates himself but he also helps his siblings and their children to get education. Even at the end he is able to change the heart of Abbas, who has always believed in violence and revenge.
In the end, Ahmed urges the world to join him in his attempt to put an end to the atrocities being done in Palestine and to work forward for the peace in the world. Peace, such a beautiful word but don’t know when actually we all will have it and when the war will end. But we should never give up and should keep making the effort to bring peace to the world; that’s what “The Almond Tree” is all about.