Book review: The Almond Tree
by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Arab-Israeli wars seem a never-ending reality, and Christian end-times interest in Palestine only escalates the conflict. Corasanti’s new novel provides insight into the grassroots tension in Palestine, without favoring one side over the other.
I’m reviewing this from the perspective of a religious blog, and from that viewpoint, Corasanti’s first book is definitely a five-star effort! I asked for a copy because my cozy little world is a long way from Jerusalem. I had hoped that my own book about Revelation might alleviate some of the tension from a Christian viewpoint, but in truth, I’m more of a history scholar than a present-day religion nerd. I was hoping this novel would grant me an inside view to the religious commitments and feelings of the two sides, explaining why it is so difficult for these two nations to come to terms, and the author did that well.
Young, gifted Ichmad Hamid grows up in poverty after being driven out of Jerusalem, and he seeks to escape the constrains of his little village in order to provide for his family. He battles the hatred his mother and brother hold toward Jews, and accepts a scholarship into a mostly-Jewish university. Education becomes his solution for bigotry and fear, but for others in his family, he is viewed as a traitor. This is his life-long story.
Corasanti lived seven years in Israel, and relates the atmosphere very well. I can’t speak to whether the book is an accurate portrayal; that, I must take on trust. But the story is powerful and engrossing, definitely recommended.