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on May 15, 2004
Eleven-year-old Malaak has stopped talking to her family and friends since her father disappeared a month before. The roof of her building in the Palestinian community of Gaza City provides her only refuge. It is here that she speaks to her pet dove Abdo, a gift from her father. In this place, she says, "I soar out of the Gaza Strip. Nothing stops me, not the concrete and razor wire, not the guns, not the soldiers." It is the first intifada of 1988 and Malaak experiences the mounting conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
When Malaak learns that her father was killed on a bus by a terrorist's bomb, she retreats to an inner world where she sees her father in dreams. All around her the violence increases as the youth on the streets or the "shabab" take on the Israeli soldiers with stones for weapons. Malaak's mother and her sister Hend, decry the violence of the Islamic Jihad. However, her 12-year-old brother Hamid is drawn in by its angry self-righteousness. Malaak loves her brother, her protector and a poet, but is scared to see him move increasingly under the influence of others in the jihad, who embrace violence as a solution to the occupation of the Gaza Strip.
The power of A Stone in My Hand is its insightful portrayal of the scars left on those children living in a zone of armed conflict and unending violence. From the silencing of Malaak by grief, to the rash and dangerous decisions of Hamid, we see children living in a world out of their control, coping in ways that are more instinctual than rational. The damage made by the ravages of armed violence is evident. However, for Malaak, the love of her family and the memory of her father is the balm to soothe the wounds.
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on May 14, 2004
Eleven-year-old Malaak has stopped talking to her family and friends since her father disappeared a month ago. She spends most of her time on the roof of her building in the Palestinian community of Gaza City. In this refuge, she speaks to her dove Abdo, a gift from her father. In this place, she says, "I soar out of the Gaza Strip. Nothing stops me, not the concrete and razor wire, not the guns, not the soldiers." It is the first intifada of 1988 and Malaak is experiencing the mounting armed conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
When Malaak learns that her father was killed on a bus by a terrorist's bomb, she retreats into an inner world where she sees her father in dreams. All around her, however, the violence increases between the Palestinian youth or "shabab" and the Israeli soldiers. Malaak's mother and her sister Hend decry the violence of Islamic Jihad whom they hold responsible for their father's death. Hamid, Malaak's 12-year-old brother is increasingly drawn in by its angry and uncompromising righteousness. Malaak loves her brother, her protector and a poet, but is scared to see him move increasingly under the influence of others who embrace violence as the solution to the occupation of the Gaza Strip.
The power of A Stone in My Hand is its insightful portrayal of the scars left on those children living in a zone of armed conflict and unending violence. From the silencing of Malaak by grief, to the rash, dangerous decisions of Hamid, we see children living in a world out of their control, coping in ways that are more instinctual than rational. The scars left by the ravages of armed violence are evident. However, for Malaak, the love of her family and the memory of her father provide the balm to soothe her wounds.
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on July 29, 2004
Eleven year-old Malaak Abed Atieh lives with her mother, her older sister Hend and her older brother Hamid in Gaza City. It's been a month since their father left to look for work as a mechanic in Israel, only to disappear. Every day she climbs up to the roof and waits for him, imagining that she can fly to the prison cell where she is convinced he's being held. She hardly speaks to anybody except her pet bird Abdo.

As tensions mount between the Israelis and Palestinians, Malaak realizes she can't remain in her world of silence anymore. Each day becomes a struggle for her when her mother tells her that her father is dead. It gets even harder when Hamid tells her that he and his friend, Tariq, have become involved in a hate group. When the rest of the family finds out, they know he's in danger and try to get him out of the hate group with no success. Their worst fears are realized when Hamid gets shot in the head one day and has to go to the hospital. Will Hamid remain alive or will he die like his father?

This book made me feel sorry for all of the people who are experiencing war in their home countries. Nobody should have to go through that kind of turmoil in their lives. If I were Hamid, I would not have joined the hate group because violence does not solve problems. What would you have done if you were Hamid? If you like to read moving stories, read this book to find out what happens to Malaak and her family.

--- Reviewed by Ashley Hartlaub
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on May 16, 2014
This was a great book. I would recommend this to anyone of any religion as an informative and well-researched book. The book puts you in a young girl’s world dealing with real world issues of war and struggle.
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on November 24, 2002
Many people probly are missing out on reading this book- and they definetely need to read this! its a very sad tale of a young palestinian girl who longs for her father's return- he went to look for a job in israel. When turmoil breaks out- malaak is able to stay strong- this is her incredible story. I recommend this 100%
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on November 13, 2002
Clinton's beautifully-written novel is a powerful evocation of people trapped in a cycle of violence and is essential reading. I thoroughly disagree with the previous reviewer's assertion that this book provides a completely one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides have been guilty of so many atrocities that any moral credit as victims has long since been used up. Malaak's hope, and the message of the novel, is to move beyond violence, not to defeat oppression with violence - from the stone in the hand to the bomber in the bus.
I also believe that the sentiment expressed by the previous reviewer - that is, that criticism of the Israeli state constitutes anti-semitism - is a dangerous and foolish position to take. If I criticise the leaders of the USA, does that make me anti-American? Actually, in the current climate, perhaps many people think it does...
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on April 10, 2011
Malaak is an eleven year old girl living in Gaza City in 1988 during the first intifada. Her father has left for Israel, hoping to find work, and Malaak spends hours on the roof of her house watching for his return. Waiting with her is a small bird she has named Abdo. As the days pass, Malaak stops talking and at times she feels her consciousness soar with Abdo.

"Silence flutters down on us. It feels like Abdo lighting on my shoulder. This is safe. This slight moment, this space of rest, feels larger than now."

Most of the time, Malaak lives in fear. She thinks that with Abdo's eyes she can see her father in prison. Malaak's mother and sister bustle around the household protectively, but they are hiding something. And Malaak's beloved older brother, Hamid, and his friend, Tariq, have become shababs, or young activists, and even attend a meeting organized by the Islamic Jihad.

"I look at Hamid. He is eager. He eats these words. His mouth opens and shuts. He clenches and unclenches his fists.

'We will not dishonor our heroes, our martyrs, by forgetting them. We honor the martyrs today. They are willing to sacrifice their lives to free people from the occupation. There are people all over the world today who are fighting against oppressors. Some will die. Every revolution has its martyrs.'

Tariq stands there, unmoving. He doesn't even blink. I wonder if he hears anything. Maybe he is part stone already. A stone for someone to pick up and throw at a soldier..."

Malaak spends her youth balancing between trying to keep her family safe and withdrawing into a mystical and silent world of her own. Poetic, yet sparse, the language of the book is hypnotic, and I, too, felt the seduction of withdrawal. It's a beautiful book, written for young adults, but I would recommend it for anyone interested in the Palestinian situation.
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on February 19, 2003
At a time when so much violence permeates the Middle East, this "insightful gem" is a must read. The perspective presented here is seldom heard. The reader will gain an understanding of the fear, humiliation, and despair that is endured by so many people in this region. Oh, how I wish that many of our leaders would read this book!
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on August 1, 2010
This is a tough book. In the beginning the main character, a Palestinian girl, is just realizing she has lost her father. Throughout the rest of the book she is realizing she may soon lose her brother to the dangerous anti-Israeli activities he engages in. The story is strictly told from the Palestinian point of view. The mother in the story introduces the idea of antiviolence as she explains to her son that Islamic Jihad was the group that killed his father, through their actions toward Israelis. There is a bird the main character uses as comfort and as a symbol of flying away from her world of violence. It is an engaging book. If I were to use it with my classes, I would need to be sure both sides of the conflict were presented.
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on November 23, 2014
excellent
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