Saturday, June 28, 2014

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Spotlight: Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

Mornings in Jenin
Title: Mornings in Jenin
Author: Susan Abulhawa
Publication Date: February 2, 2010
Genre: Historical Fiction
A heart-wrenching, powerfully written novel that could do for Palestine what The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan.

Forcibly removed from the ancient village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejas are moved into the Jenin refugee camp. There, exiled from his beloved olive groves, the family patriarch languishes of a broken heart, his eldest son fathers a family and falls victim to an Israeli bullet, and his grandchildren struggle against tragedy toward freedom, peace, and home. This is the Palestinian story, told as never before, through four generations of a single family.

The very precariousness of existence in the camps quickens life itself. Amal, the patriarch's bright granddaughter, feels this with certainty when she discovers the joys of young friendship and first love and especially when she loses her adored father, who read to her daily as a young girl in the quiet of the early dawn. Through Amal we get the stories of her twin brothers, one who is kidnapped by an Israeli soldier and raised Jewish; the other who sacrifices everything for the Palestinian cause. Amal’s own dramatic story threads between the major Palestinian-Israeli clashes of three decades; it is one of love and loss, of childhood, marriage, and parenthood, and finally of the need to share her history with her daughter, to preserve the greatest love she has.

The deep and moving humanity of Mornings in Jenin forces us to take a fresh look at one of the defining political conflicts of our lifetimes. -Goodreads

5 Stars
Since its birth a month ago, I have been an avid supporter of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. I mean, besides the fact that I'm part of a minority, I've noticed that there seems to be one type of protagonist that publishers look for, and this in turn leads to a horribly un-diverse cast of fictional protagonists. I, like many other readers, am sick and tired of this uniformity.

Partly to share my love of this book and partly to pitch in for the campaign, I decided to do a review of a book that I hold very dear to my heart and childhood. I read said novel before I began blogging - probably in 2010 - and to this day I still get tears in my eyes as I relive the events in Mornings in Jenin.

And you know what? I admit it: I am bias in my favoring of this novel. I have very personal reasons for loving it. But despite this, I really think anyone would enjoy - er, be affected - by this novel. It's not limited to one country or people or place. Its beauty is that it is so applicable to nearly everything, no matter the specifics.

The reason why I feel this is the perfect book to represent a campaign on diversity is because the book itself contains such a myriad of cultures and circumstances. It is well-researched and does not shy away from something a normal book would consider "dangerous." It explores different individuals with dissimilar backgrounds and encourages us to be open-minded. It brings to light a people that are horribly underrepresented. That, my friends, is what I consider to be a diverse novel.  

I don't care if you support Israel or Palestine or are neutral - no matter your political beliefs, this is a must read for anyone who is looking for a colorful and cultured book of diversity.

1 comment:

  1. I have really high hopes for this campaign and I truly wish lots of authors - particularly YA authors - embrace it. And I agree - the publishing industry lacks so much in things other than race - I mean, come on, when was the last time you read of a character with a disability? I'm glad I convinced you to read this, Faye, and thanks! :D