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review 2014-11-10 23:51
A very powerful read.
The Almond Tree - Michelle Cohen Corasanti

This well written book gave an excellent sense of the desperation felt by many Palestinians, that whatever they do, they are battling against impossible odds, yet, there is always hope. The only downside for me, was that Ichmad Hamid, who raises himself above all the desolation, only does so because of his supreme intelligence, which gives him exceptional mathematical abilities - I'd have preferred the hero to have been a more 'typical' member of the community.


Beginning in 1955, the novel starts with one of the most powerful opening chapters of any book I have read. Fortunately not all the following chapters are as harrowing, or I do not think I could have read it. Ichmad's family is close-knit, with a father who advocates love in the face of hardship and holds his family together with wisdom. But the hardships that they face would test any growing boys and their reactions to events differ.


The almond tree of the title became the centre of Ichmad's family's life after they had been evicted from their land to make space for the incoming Israeli population. it provided them with shelter, a source of food and income, and a view-point from which to watch their former land, now under Israeli occupation.


It is remarkable that the author is in fact Jewish, rather than Palestinian, as I had expected. She felt she could reach the largest number of people with her message by becoming a writer and I hope this book will become as well known as The Kite Runner and she may achieve her aim.



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review 2014-08-30 18:28
A Must Read!
The Almond Tree - Michelle Cohen Corasanti

This story is heart wrenching, thrilling and thought provoking. A view of political and war torn Palestine and Israel from the point of view of the common people who are caught in between. Absolutely compelling! A must read!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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text 2014-06-18 03:56
Father's Day Edition
The Almond Tree - Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Brilliance - Marcus Sakey
Looking for Alaska - John Green
The Secret Side of Empty - Maria E. Andreu
My Ex From Hell - Tellulah Darling
Masked (New World Series) - Janelle Stalder

Hey everyone! So the other day was father's day in pretty much the whole world, and I wanted to celebrate this special day with a recollection of the Best and Worst father's in literature.


As we know, through literature we can experience a bit of everything good and bad in the world, and as a part of every child's experience, we find that the influence dad's can exercise is fundamental, even if said parent is the worst. They shape our lives in a way or another.


Therefore, in order to attest to the aforementioned here are the Top 3 Best & Worst Father's in books I've read this year.




1) Baba from The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti.


Baba is a great example of a what an excellent dad should be. He is filled with wise advice and always puts his family first. I'm talking about a man who is willing to go to jail for a crime he didn't commit, willing to bear torture in order to keep his family safe; and the best of all? Even during the worst of times he puts a cheerful face and never ever complains.


2) Nick Cooper from Brilliance by Marcus Sakey.


Nick is an amazing character, he is smart, loyal and has impeccable morals, but he is an even better father. His kids are his life and he is willing to take the extra mile to keep them safe. He took a job in a government agency who hunted his own kind because he believed he could help build a better world for his kids, but when things got tricky, he even risked his life in a suicidal mission so he could make sure his daughter wouldn't be taken away.



3) Miles "Pudge" Halter's Dad from Looking For Alaska by John Green.


Miles' dad doesn't make much of an appearance in this book, but he proves to be very cool. He was always encouraging Miles, and both his parents were very supportive in every choice he made. But when Miles asks him to help him and his friends pull off the greatest prank ever made in Culver Creek Boarding School, his dad doesn't even ask questions. Hence, he is cool!




1) M.T's Dad from The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu.


M.T.'s dad is a man who decided to vent all his frustration on his family, especially his wife and daughter. He didn't get the respect he wanted in life, so he forced it out of her daughter. Basically, he abused her physically and psychologically, until she couldn't stand it anymore. The worst thing is, up until the end he justified himself for his actions. He never really got that what he was doing was wrong.



2) Zeus from The Blooming Godess Trilogy by Tellulah Darling.


Zeus is a mythological character we are all familiar with I presume, and he is famous for neglecting his multiple children. But in this case, he sort of went overboard with his daughter Persephone/Sophie. How you ask? Because he even joined forces with his not so beloved brother Hades, to destroy her and prevent her from saving the world. That's right, this horrible dad wants his daughter dead, and has all his minion from Olympus on a mission to get her.



3) The General from the Switch Series by Janelle Stalder.


This is another dad who seriously doesn't know what love is. He puts his mission before his family and even risks the well being of his daughters so he could achieve it. This is the kind of dad who will rather torture one daughter to manipulate the other, and use them as weapons so he could gain the power he seeks. He did much worse, but I don't want to spoil anything else.


There are more great examples I can think of at the top of my head, but now I want to know about the great and awful dads you've read about. Care to share?


Source: touchofbookmadness.blogspot.com/2014/06/bookish-truths-fathers-day-edition.html
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review 2014-06-01 00:11
The Almond Tree
The Almond Tree - Michelle Cohen Corasanti

I was rendered speechless by this book. It is the most beautiful book I’ve a read in a very long time. It’s so incredibly written that you could feel all the pain, hatred, desperation and hope. This story is soul crushing and inspiring and refreshing and most importantly so very truthful. I don’t even know if my words will be fair to it.


Michelle has a real gift and a way with words. She managed to bring to life smells, views, sounds and emotions, oh God! So raw emotions! But what strikes harder is that all this pain was and still is real.


The math and physics references I skimmed through because they required some deep knowledge on the subject, which I lack, but they were very scarce and only to emphasize Ichmad’s talent. The Arab words were easy to understand within the context.


In brief words, this book is a wonderful testimony of humankind in its best and worst, and overflowing with wisdom filled lessons.


The heart of this story though, was in its characters. The complexity in all of them. I simply loved Baba! He sort of reminded me of my dad with his courage and advices of peace, love and understanding. This man is unbelievably strong, and the greatest influence in Ichmad’s life. He grew up to be the man he was because of him and all his teachings, because of the people who believed in him and who taught him to love and trust. These two men, father and son, are the most inspiring and resilient characters I’ve read about in a while.


But I also loved the fact that we got to know and care for characters that weren’t as wise and forgiving, like Abbas and their mum. I wanted to make them come to their senses so many times, but I could also understand their stubbornness and how life led them to be the way they were. It’s funny how people in the same circumstances can turn out as different.


I also had the chance to enjoy and witness, along Ichmad, how hatred turned into respect and then love when it came to Professor Sharon, and I couldn’t help but be amazed how love and patience can go a long way.


The writing is beautiful, immediate and engrossing, and you’ll easily get lost among the words and in time.


In sum, I was expecting good and I got great. I learned a lot about humankind, different cultures and history, but most of all about hope, kindness and forgiveness. Please, do yourselves a favour and pick this one up. It is a book to fall in love with.


*Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, but my opinion was not biased in any way by this fact.

Source: touchofbookmadness.blogspot.com/2014/05/review-excerpt-almond-tree-by-michelle.html
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review 2014-05-29 00:00
The Almond Tree
The Almond Tree - Michelle Cohen Corasanti * I received this in a Goodreads “First Reads” Giveaway *

Ichmad Hamed is a young Palestinian boy living in a small village controlled by the Israeli army. While innocently chasing a butterfly across a field outside their home his 3-year-old sister, Ama, is blown up by a land mine. Not long afterwards his family is forcibly removed from their comfortable home and assigned to live in a mud hut. Ichmad is bitter about his family’s circumstances and decides that possibly the rebels have the right idea. This leads to one poor decision on his part causing his father to be imprisoned for 14 years. Guilty over his father’s imprisonment Ichmad vows to try and change things for his family, but instead of getting better, the harder he tries the more things seem to become continually worse.

The only constant is his life is the almond tree that grows beside their ramshackle home. That tree is the source of much of their meager food supply; it is Ichmad’s refuge and the site of his biggest downfall. Eventually it also becomes the place of his greatest sorrow. But it is his constant.

Ichmad is, however, blessed with an uncanny intellect when it comes to math and science so with the help of a kind and determined teacher and against his mother’s wishes he enters a math contest and succeeds in winning a scholarship to an Israeli university. He chooses to make this the beginning of a better life for himself and his family. Leaving behind a crippled brother, his mother and younger siblings he departs for school despite knowing his family will be left in dire straits.

Ichmad feels the full support and wisdom of his father through letters but it is never easy for Ichmad as he is determined to do well at school and make something of himself. He manages to win over one his greatest nay-sayers, the Israeli professor who at one point had him expelled from classes. The unlikely and very cautious relationship between the two turns into Ichmad’s saving grace.

With a move to America and a prestigious position at an American university Ichmad becomes a little more “westernized” and eventually takes an Israeli/American wife. But in gaining a wife he loses a brother.

Fifty years later Ichmad is still haunted by his missing brother and the need to make his family whole again.

Despite the all too real horrors of religious and race intolerance, poverty, injustice, cruelty and war this is a wonderful book. It is sad, it will pull at your heartstrings, it may make you cry and yet somehow it manages to be uplifting at the same time. I was enthralled from the first page to the last. Ms. Corasanti has given her readers a book that takes you on an unforgettable journey with Ichmad’s family. She shows us the depths of despair, the strength of family and love and how sometimes even the pinnacle of success can be overshadowed by loss, unsaid words and unresolved arguments. The book is rich with the texture and the culture of the Middle East and there are very vivid descriptions of landscapes both ugly and lovely.

I can’t leave this review without acknowledging the fact that some people (those with stronger political and religious views that myself) will undoubtedly find this story one-sided. It is! It is the fictionalized story of one man and one family.

Although the subject matter and locale are different I cannot help but draw comparisons to “The Kite Runner”. This book also proves that no matter what life throws at you, whatever decisions you make be they good or bad, if it is important enough to you and you are determined enough … “you can be good again”.
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