The Almond Tree – Michelle Cohen Corasanti


“Throughout history the conquerors have always treated the conquered this way. The bad ones need to believe we’re inferior to justify the way they treat us. If they only could realize that we’re all the same.”

The story follows the life of Palestinian Ichmad Hamad and his family over the span of half a century, living in a Palestinian village controlled by the Israeli army. Of his village Ichmad says, “Only five years earlier, it had been filled with olive trees. Now it was filled with landmines like the one that killed my baby sister, Amal.”

Ichmad is highly intelligent, and has Einstein as one of his role models. He sets about trying to use his intellect to keep his family afloat when his father (Baba) is wrongfully imprisoned for 14 years.

The book is definitely about injustice, and there’s plenty of it. It was hard not to get angry and upset while reading this book. So much of what the Palestinians faced was unfair, to say the least, and the fact that it’s been going on for generations is truly mind-boggling. The landmines, the curfews, the blatant racism shown towards the Palestinians…, the list goes on.

However, this book doesn’t paint Israelis as inherently bad or Palestinians as inherently good. In my opinion, the author offers a very balanced opinion about the people involved in this conflict; she shows very clearly that there is good and bad in every race/ethnic group, a point that I feel is so important to remember. I think it’s also important to note that the writer is Jewish-American. I applaud her for writing a novel about a very controversial topic.

The story is about forgiveness and seeing the humanness in someone above seeing their religion or ethnicity. I did like the hopeful tone in the book despite the tragedies.

This is one of those books which are important to read in spite of the difficult subject matter. I don’t think I will ever forget this story.


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