From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—Eight short stories illuminate the experiences of adolescents in modern-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan, yet many of their conflicts and concerns are universal in nature. In the title story, 13-year-old Amal learns some lessons about honor, gifts, and the act of giving when her seven-year-old brother confuses their wealthy uncle with Santa Claus. Suhayl cooks a homemade meal to bring joy into the life of his divorced mother in "Faces." Other situations are unique to the Middle East. For example, Mujahhid defends a Palestinian olive grove against the occupying Israeli military in "The Olive Grove." In the stellar "Honor," a beautiful young woman faces a possible "honor killing" at the hands of her disgraced family after she is seen in public with a man. "The Plan," in which a young Palestinian refugee in Lebanon orchestrates a meeting between his older brother and his charismatic art teacher, is utterly charming. Touches of suspense, romance, and humor keep the pages turning in this fine collection. Themes of faith, loyalty, and coming-of-age are sensitively handled and compellingly depicted. Notes explain each story's historical, political, and social context. This collection is an expanded version of Figs and Fate
(Braziller, 2005). It will be popular with fans of Deborah Ellis and Suzanne Fisher Staples, and will also be an excellent supplemental reading choice for world-cultures curricula.—Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
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Author Elsa Marston has written a wonderful book about the Middle East...[a] compelling collection...offers real insight into why the conflicts continue, contracts what Americans think they know and how little they really know about the causes of the conflicts from the standpoints of innocense and tragedy and perilous lives of young children clouded only by the desire for peace.
I read it and I couldn't put it down until I was finished. I hope you will read it too.
This book needs to be in every library.--Ray Hanania"Middle East Book Review and Announcements (http: //ibookreviews.blogspot.com/)" (01/01/2008)