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Mornings in Jenin: A Novel Paperback – February 2, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this richly detailed, beautiful and resonant novel examining the Palestinian and Jewish conflicts from the mid-20th century to 2002, (originally published as The Scar of David in 2006, and now republished after a new edit), Abulhawa gives the terrible conflict a human face. The tale opens with Amal staring down the barrel of a soldier's gun—and moves backward to present the history that preceded that moment. In 1941 Palestine, Amal's grandparents are living on an olive farm in the village of Ein Hod. Their oldest son, Hasan, is best friends with a refugee Jewish boy, Ari Perlstein as WWII rages elsewhere. But in May 1948, the Jewish state of Israel is proclaimed, and Ein Hod, founded in 1189 C.E., was cleared of its Palestinian children... and the residents moved to Jenin refugee camp, where Amal is born. Through her eyes we experience the indignities and sufferings of the Palestinian refugees and also friendship and love. Abulhawa makes a great effort to empathize with all sides and tells an affecting and important story that succeeds as both literature and social commentary. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Abulhawa’s debut novel is a powerful portrayal of what might be labeled the “other side” of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the viewpoint of Palestinian refugees uprooted in 1948, when Israel became a state. Such as the Abulheja family, who were forced from the village of Ein Hod to a refugee camp in Jenin. We meet twin brothers Ismael, who is kidnapped by an Israeli soldier and raised Jewish, and Yousef, who becomes filled with hatred and joins the PLO. Through the eyes of Amal, their sister born in Jenin in 1955, we travel through three decades of conflict, starting in June 1967 and the Six Days’ War, during which Jenin is bombed. So begins the military occupation that rules their lives. Amal is sent to an orphanage for Palestinian refugees in Jerusalem in 1969 and later receives a scholarship to Temple University in Philadelphia. Finally, Amal returns to Jenin in 2002 with her daughter to show her the “one-square-kilometer patch of earth” where she grew up. An intimate look at the refugee existence by a daughter of refugees. --Deborah Donovan

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 Reprint edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608190463
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608190461
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (501 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Abulhawa was born to refugees of the 1967 war when Israel captured what remained of Palestine, including Jerusalem. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her daughter. She is the founder and President of Playgrounds for Palestine, a children's organization dedicated to upholding The Right to Play for Palestinian children. Her essays and political commentaries have appeared in print and international news media and she is a contributing author to two anthologies, Shattered Illusions (Amal Press, 2002) and Searching Jenin (Cune Press, 2003). Mornings in Jenin is her first novel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

168 of 184 people found the following review helpful By S. Nichols VINE VOICE on February 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
What I write pales in comparison to what you will find in the writing style and story within the pages of this book. If I could adequately describe how this book made me feel, I still would not do the book justice.
Mornings in Jenin is the story of four generations of Palestinians living through the birth of Israel and the never ending war that follows. The story centers on Amal, a women who is born in a refugee camp. Her story is one of loss, love and redemption.
I asked to review this particular book because I have always questioned the war between Israel and Palestine. I am torn between understanding the need for a permanent homeland after living through the horrors of WW2 and the way in which the country of Isreal was settled. When I was younger I would ask my elders to explain the actions of the two nations but try as they might, none could truly explain both sides. The issue of the two nations within one setting is very polarizing. I would hear about the Palestine terrorist but not the people. As a result I know little about the human story of Palestinians and thought this book may offer some insight into their world.
Abulhawa's writing style is nothing short of amazing. Though this book is heartbreaking at every turn Abulhawa's words sing out. Yes, they sing out and you as a reader are caught up in her song. Never mind that at times the pain becomes unbearable, the song of her words compel you the reader to stay with her. A little past half way I wanted to give up; there was too much death and heartache, but I stuck with it as the story needed to be told. As much as it hurt to hear it, this story does need to be told. We need to hear about the aftermaths of war. Not because we need to take one side or the other, but because we should pause before we pick a side.
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72 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Yousef Munayyer on May 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa, is the story of one Palestinian family over four generations. It can be argued, however, that it is also a story about any and every Palestinian family. The novel begins in the picturesque village of Ein Hod in the north of Palestine. The Abulheja family leads the simple life that most Palestinian farmers led before their tragic dispossession in 1948. Love was plentiful in Ein Hod. Love for life, for family, for God, and for the land. This was the essence of a farming society for generation upon generation.

The Abulhejas and their countrymen are forced out of their villages and homes only to find refuge in foreign towns and lands. They find themselves in a refugee camp in Jenin, their lives totally turned upside-down after losing everything they knew in their simple but beautiful, Palestinian village.

As they struggle in the refugee camp, in the early period after their exile, olive harvest season approaches. Haj Yehya, the family's patriarch, sneaks across the armistice line to tend to his olive groves despite the threat of death from an Israeli bullet. When he returns to the camp in Jenin where his family anxiously waits, he brings them the fruits of his labor, and the labor of generations before him, plucked from their trees in their village. Nothing could stop this old man from returning to his village, but on his next trip, he never made it back to Jenin.

That was the last time any Abulheja attempted to return, but the dreams of return only grew stronger. Amal, with a long vowel (a name meaning "hopes" in Arabic), was born in the refugee camp of Jenin to Haj Yehya's son Hasan. Her older brother, Yousef, spent his early years in Ein Hod before the Nakba.
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98 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Crease in the Page on April 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I told my high-school English class about a wedding I had been to over the weekend. It was a joyful wedding, as weddings should be, but there was also deep sorrow over the family members who couldn't be there; it was a wedding of some refugee friends of mine whose family members had been killed oversees in a clash between Christians and Muslims. I told my students that I was still feeling emotional over the tears of my friends. Tarek, one of my students, raised his hand and asked whether it was a Christian or Muslim wedding. Knowing he was Palestinian, I hoped to help him see that both sides suffer in war, so I told him: "It was a Christian wedding." He cheered about their loss and high-fived another boy in the class who was also Muslim. I suppose I gave the wrong answer. I should have said, "It was a human wedding." That was in the year 2000. To this day I have wanted to understand more about how and why Tarek and others could be so angry toward Americans, Jews, and Christians. So I read this book.

I will say in the author's favor that she had a more balanced perspective than Tarek had. Although she is clearly angry and describes Jewish people as thieves, murderers, and terrorists, she also includes a few Jewish characters who are kind and compassionate. She seeks to understand why Jewish people have taken her land, and concludes that it was because they themselves had been mistreated and without a home; she attempts to have a merciful, balanced perspective. But she is still overtly angry, and she definitely led me as the reader to understand why she is so angry.

It is truly grotesque that I, an educated 34-year-old American citizen, who has even spent 6 years overseas, had never stopped to consider WHY Palestinians are angry with Israel and America.
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