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Habibi Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-9. An important first novel from a distinguished anthologist and poet. When Liyana's doctor father, a native Palestinian, decides to move his contemporary Arab-American family back to Jerusalem from St. Louis, 14-year-old Liyana is unenthusiastic. Arriving in Jerusalem, the girl and her family are gathered in by their colorful, warmhearted Palestinian relatives and immersed in a culture where only tourists wear shorts and there is a prohibition against boy/girl relationships. When Liyana falls in love with Omer, a Jewish boy, she challenges family, culture, and tradition, but her homesickness fades. Constantly lurking in the background of the novel is violence between Palestinian and Jew. It builds from minor bureaucratic annoyances and humiliations, to the surprisingly shocking destruction of grandmother's bathroom by Israeli soldiers, to a bomb set off in a Jewish marketplace by Palestinians. It exacts a reprisal in which Liyana's friend is shot and her father jailed. Nye introduces readers to unforgettable characters. The setting is both sensory and tangible: from the grandmother's village to a Bedouin camp. Above all, there is Jerusalem itself, where ancient tensions seep out of cracks and Liyana explores the streets practicing her Arabic vocabulary. Though the story begins at a leisurely pace, readers will be engaged by the characters, the romance, and the foreshadowed danger. Poetically imaged and leavened with humor, the story renders layered and complex history understandable through character and incident. Habibi succeeds in making the hope for peace compellingly personal and long as individual citizens like Liyana's grandmother Sitti can say, "I never lost my peace inside."?Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Liyana Abboud, 14, and her family make a tremendous adjustment when they move to Jerusalem from St. Louis. All she and her younger brother, Rafik, know of their Palestinian father's culture come from his reminiscences of growing up and the fighting they see on television. In Jerusalem, she is the only ``outsider'' at an Armenian school; her easygoing father, Poppy, finds himself having to remind her--often against his own common sense--of rules for ``appropriate'' behavior; and snug shops replace supermarket shopping--the malls of her upbringing are unheard of. Worst of all, Poppy is jailed for getting in the middle of a dispute between Israeli soldiers and a teenage refugee. In her first novel, Nye (with Paul Janeczko, I Feel a Little Jumpy Around You, 1996, etc.) shows all of the charms and flaws of the old city through unique, short-story-like chapters and poetic language. The sights, sounds, and smells of Jerusalem drift through the pages and readers glean a sense of current Palestinian-Israeli relations and the region's troubled history. In the process, some of the passages become quite ponderous while the human story- -Liyana's emotional adjustments in the later chapters and her American mother's reactions overall--fall away from the plot. However, Liyana's romance with an Israeli boy develops warmly, and readers are left with hope for change and peace as Liyana makes the city her very own. (Fiction. 12+) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse; Reprint edition (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689825234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689825231
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Naomi Shihab Nye, poet, essayist, anthologist, has been a recipient of writing fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Witter Bynner Foundation/Library of Congress. Author of more than twenty volumes, her recent books inc

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "ejz99" on April 22, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Habibi, by Naomi Shihab Nye, is a thrilling adventurous book, taking place in Palestine (Israel) when Liyana and her family move there from St. Louis. Her Poppy is from Palestine and had left his family back there to move to the US. Liyana has one brother, Rafik, and her mother and father. Liyana's grandmother, Sitti, is the head of the extended family, teaching Liyana the ways of all Palestinian girls. When arriving in Palestine, Liyana is surprised when she is greeted with tons of hugs and kisses. While exploring Palestine, she meets a young boy named Omer who is hiding his identity as an Israeli. Poppy, having lived through the conflict, isn't too happy about Liyana meeting an Israeli friend. Omer is very kind to Liyana, and later on, gives Liyana her second kiss, another milestone in her life.
I enjoyed this book because it was not quite a biography, but it thoroughly explained Liyana and her family and everything going on.
While reading the book, I noticed that character development played a huge part. Later, she became very mature about moving to Palestine and understood how her father missed Palestine and the daily life. She developed into a working member of the society. Without character development, the reader would not have been able to understand how Liyana felt throughout her experiences.
Throughout the book, there was a little bias towards the Arabs, but not a lot, which was good because this book shouldn't have any bias. The book was very strong in analyzing the conflict in the region. I didn't feel any bias towards the Israelis or the Arabs while reading this book. I would definitely recommend this book to any teenager who is interested in the Arab-Israeli conflict, who doesn't know the side of any Arab. You get to realize the everyday life of your everyday Arab.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Alex Chapman on August 13, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Every summer I come to the States for my summer holidays however, this year I came alone for the first time, so my Nana joined her local library so I could have some reading material to keep me occupied. The first book I picked up was Habibi which I read the first few pages of and loved the way the author told the story of a young girl in her early teens like myself who moved with her family to a country extremely far from her hometown St. Louis. A stranger to this new life in Palestine, Liyana learns the tragic truth of hatred between the Arabs and the Jews. Being an Arab makes her friendship with Omer who is Jewish extremely hard to maintain. I thoroughly recommend this book to young adults.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Habibi, by Naomi Nye, is a wonderful, well-written book. I had to read this for school, and I was reluctant at first, but when I picked it up I couldn't stop reading! It centers around Liyana Abboud, a half-American half-Palestinian girl growing up in St. Louis. When her father Poppy tells the family that they are moving to Jerusalem, Liyana is anything but happy. She is an outsider in her new school and her entire family in Jerusalem speaks a foreign language she doesn't understand. Then she meets Omer, a Jewish boy, and begins a forbidden friendship with him. Other characters in this book include Khaled and Nadine, two children living in a neighboring refugee camp; Rafik, Liyana's younger brother; and Sitti, Liyana's grandmother who speaks no English.
I love the way this book was written. It reads like one long, flowing poem (and the short chapters don't hurt, either). The style is so new and refreshing. One of the sentences reads: "In St. Louis, Liyana's room had been painted a deep, delicious color called 'raisin.'" This is an excellent, original book that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
However, some of the issues in Habibi deal with the ongoing hatred and violence between the Palenstinians and Jews, so take that into mind. But if you're looking for action and adventure, I would recommend another book.
All in all, Habibi is a wonderful, fresh book that I think deserves to be read.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 8, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Habibi, by Naomi Shihab Nye, is a well-written and fascinating book! Habibi is about a 15-year-old girl named Liyana who moves with her father, Poppy, her mother, and younger brother, Rafik from St. Louis, Missouri to Jerusalem. There she meets her father's relatives, whom she has never met, including her grandmother, Sitti, who teaches her many things. At first, Liyana struggles to fit in, in a country where not many speak English; (including her relatives) but she makes some new friends and makes the decision on whether she would want to move back to St. Louis or stay in her new home in Jerusalem. Habibi, is an excellent book because not only is it well written and captivating, while reading it, you learn more about a Arabian culture, which is incredibly different from many of our own. You learn about different types of food eaten there, and the customs and rituals; as well as the religious customs. Not only does the book teaching you things, also when you read the book, you are transformed into Liyana's life; and you feel like you're the one who is struggling. This makes the book even more engaging and fascinating. Habibi, is a fabulous book! Although, this book is great in many ways, some people might disagree because it is unexciting for the first 20 pages or so. Despite this, if you continue reading it, it is much more captivating for the rest of the book. Another reason why others might dislike is if they are not enticed by learning about another culture. Even though the book is educational, the author writes it so it is not dull and tedious, but you always know what is happening and going on in a brief way. Even though these points are all true, the book over-all is a great page-turner, and extremely impressive. I especially recommend it for all boys and girl from age's 12- adult.
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