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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Habibi: A teen's guide to Arab-Israeli conflict
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...
Published on April 22, 2004 by ejz99

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars HABIBI
Rebeca

February 15, 2006

Period: 2nd

HABIBI

By: Naomi Nye Shibah

Liyana had her first secret kiss when her parents announced that they were moving to Jerusalem. Liyana didn't want to move because she was going to miss everybody especially her friends. One thing that I like about this book was her first kiss. The...
Published on February 22, 2006 by Rebeca


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Habibi: A teen's guide to Arab-Israeli conflict, April 22, 2004
By 
"ejz99" (Chagrin Falls, OH USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Habibi (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. The Arabs are not all suicide bombers and many would appreciate peace as much as any Israeli would. Before I read this book, I was totally for all Israelis and wouldn't even consider any of the Palestinians to be innocent. But after reading this book, I understood the life of Arabs, and consider them when I read all of the news going on in the Middle East. Habibi is an interesting book and would definitely fit the requirement of your basic school curriculum, to give kids an idea of what's going on in the world. If kids can know what's going on in the world, they can relate to the conflicts occurring in the world. The children of the world are the future of the United States and must know what is going on in the world.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An original and brilliantly written story, August 13, 2000
By 
Alex Chapman (South London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Habibi (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing piece of literature, June 13, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Habibi (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
4.0 out of 5 stars An Arabian Culture Incorporated In a Fabulous Book, January 8, 2001
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Habibi (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars HABIBI, February 22, 2006
This review is from: Habibi (Mass Market Paperback)
Rebeca

February 15, 2006

Period: 2nd

HABIBI

By: Naomi Nye Shibah

Liyana had her first secret kiss when her parents announced that they were moving to Jerusalem. Liyana didn't want to move because she was going to miss everybody especially her friends. One thing that I like about this book was her first kiss. The kiss she describes, it felt like burning she said. Then she moved to Jerusalem, she did lots of things. For example she was learning a new language and a new culture. Also, she was having difficulties at school because she did not understand the language. At school she meet a new boy called Omer, they were really good friends, then they had a good relationship. She and her brother wanted to go back to the United States because at first they did not like Jerusalem. Liyana got a sickness because she felt that she didn't had no friends also, she felt lonely. But then the time pass and her brother and Liyana did not wanted to go back. They were having a good time in Jerusalem with everyone there. I would recommend this book to a person that had to move to another country without wanting to move. I would also recommend this book Jewish people because it says lots of things about their culture. I want to be honest I didn't like the book. I thought that it was boring and that nothing much interesting happened. Also, because the author wrote a lot of what she did in Jerusalem and it was boring.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nye is a wonderful poet, but this novel is a highly disappointing effort, June 15, 2011
This review is from: Habibi (Mass Market Paperback)
Naomi Shihab Nye is a very gifted poet, and you can see her talent with language in this very lyrical novel. Unfortunately, her evocative language creates beautiful scenery but doesn't make up for mishandling character or simplifying complex situations.

I picked up this book hoping there would be a balanced perspective, not a pro-Israel one (after all, I knew the author was Palestinian), but a thoughtful, thought-provoking one.

This is not what you get in _Habibi_: unless they are 100 percent in the pro-Palestinian camp, Jews are bad and Palestinians are all innocent. We don't see Palestinians indoctrinating their children against Jews through their media and schools, nor is there any thought that maybe there was a terrorist in the refugee camp when the IDF busts in. We see bleeding Palestinians, but not blinded and dismembered Israelis blown up by terrorist bombs. We don't see that Palestinians oppress each other as much as the Israeli government does. (In fact, a recent survey concluded that at least in East Jerusalem, Palestinians would rather live under Israeli rule because it keeps streets safer, provides better schools, provides access to healthcare, etc.)

Nye's view of Palestinians is actually pretty condescending, in that they are always victims. Because she doesn't want to lead you to think they are capable of significant violence, she makes them seem so inactive that they are infantized.

There is also a total lack of historical depth. It probably makes it easier for Nye to offer her simplistic resolution to Middle East violence if she makes the problem look simple.

There is an opportunity for balance when Liyana meets Omer, but he just immediately concedes that she's totally in the right. Nye wants you to believe that this is the meeting of two sides of the divide and that their romance will cure things. The thing is--Omer ISN'T different from Liyana. They share the same beliefs, so he's not really the Other. Real world peace will come when we can live alongside people who are truly different from ourselves, accept responsibility for our actions instead of only blindly blaming them for theirs, and remain different peaceably.

Nye's simplistic solution to Middle Eastern crisis is that everyone should interdate, intermarry and eat dinner together. Jews are only acceptable when they are just like Palestinians and want to hang out with them on Palestinian terms. There is a lack of suspense in the story, because it becomes so predictable and there is a lack of tension between the main characters. Moreover, the "everybody should just love each other" romance between Liyana and Omer includes an anti-organized religion tirade that probably offends some members of the audience (and parents should be aware of this).

This book saddens me, because I've read Nye's poetry and really enjoyed it. The style of the beginning chapters of the book is engaging and creative, which is why this is a two star, not one star review. She captures Liyana's emotions well in the first third of the book. It just peters out into a pro-Palestinian fantasy that was unpalatable to me. Intelligent people who want to contemplate these issues don't just want to hear just the Israeli side, but they won't want to read this either.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Darling, April 25, 2001
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Habibi (Mass Market Paperback)
Habibi means darling in Arabic. Liyana is a fourteen years old child with an attitude all her of her own. She is half-American and half Arabic, her mom is from St Louis and dad is from Israel. Her father came to America for Med. school. He fell in love and stayed for a while.
Liyana life in Israel changed adequately. At first she felt home sick for a lot of things. Though when asked what she was home sick for she couldnŐt answer. Her bother Rafik was never homesick. When Liyana was younger she always wanted to live in two different countries.
Towards the end of the book Liyana made some friends. Her friends are of different ethnicity. She also had a very good friend named Omer. Liyana life in school is almost like the school I go to. I go to the Churchill school and Center my school is very diverse.
I liked Habibi because it had funny moments. The only part I didn't like was Liyana's writing. I didn't like it because it didn't make senses to me. I did like the way she though. I also like the fact that she made a lot of senses at times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful novel to teach tolerence, November 28, 2010
This review is from: Habibi (Mass Market Paperback)
As a middle school teacher, I've found that this novel connects with 12 and 13 year old children. The prose is precise and delicate. The characters seem real to my students, and the events in the novel are very up to date, considering that the Jewish/Palestinian problem is still an issue in the middle east. The author should write a novel which updates us on the struggle of the characters. I realize Ms. Nye is a poet. But I think that her poetic skills translate well into good young adult literature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eye-opening, April 19, 2001
By 
A. Flores (San Antonio, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Habibi (Mass Market Paperback)
The characters glowed, and I could smell and hear the food and noises of the city.
Lyana was very indepedent but was still portrayed realisitcally because she was always searching within herself. All the characters were believable.
The story line was just the right pace, and the romance subplot was sweet, but did not take over the story.
I will recommned it too many.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The great book of love, hate and good times, April 22, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Habibi (Mass Market Paperback)
Grades 5-8. "Liyana started thinking of the word immigrant in a different way at that moment and her skin pricked. Now she would be an immigrant (Habibi 5)." Liyana, who is the main character in the book Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye, has to move from St. Louis, Missouri to Jerusalem, Israel in the Middle East. At first she doesn't want to go because she doesn't want to change anything, she likes what she has. When she gets to Israel she is surprised at how beautiful the scene is in Israel, but still she thinks she could never fit in. She is upset about moving until she meets a nice Jewish boy in town named Omer. There is only one problem, Liyana is Arab, Omer is Jewish, and Liyana's dad doesn't want her to get involved with other religions because she or that other person could be killed.
Nye uses a lot of bias towards the Palestinians in her book Habibi. When a bomb goes off in a market place, the Israeli solders automatically think that a Palestinian did it. So the solders go into a refugee camp for the Palestinians and they shoot a Palestinian because they thought that he bombed the Israeli market place. This is in the book to show that the Israelis are also as violent as the Palestinians. It also shows that Palestinians don't start everything that happens it the Middle East. Habibi has a great start with lots of description and strong feelings of what they think. The end of the book though isn't very good because it ends abruptly. It ends in a way where the problems that the characters still have don't get solved.
The characters throughout the book change a lot. For example Liyana, at first doesn't accept anything that comes her way. When her dad tells her that they are moving to Israel, and she doesn't want to move. She doesn't accept what her parents want to do and what they think is best for her. But towards the end she respects her parents' decisions and lives with what is thrown her way. Poppy, Liyana's dad also changes for the better. At the beginning of the book he is really protective of Liyana and doesn't want her to take any chances. But once they move to Israel he starts to let her go a little and lets her take chances. Now she is taking chances by meeting new people and getting to know them a little. The person that helps Poppy change is Liyana's mom. She understands what it's like to be held on to and understands that she needs freedom. She helps Poppy change his views towards other people and religions.
Habibi is a great book for a middle school class read. It shows that people can and do get along with other religions and people in the Middle East. Habibi is for YA and is also a good independent read. The beginning is well written because there is a lot of description and feeling that is explained. The end isn't very good because of it ends abruptly, but the overall book is very well thought out and explained from a Middle Eastern point of view.
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Habibi
Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye (Mass Market Paperback - June 1, 1999)
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