Review: The Almond Tree

September 23, 2013 Whitney Review 1 Comment

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Almond TreeThe Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Published by Garnet Publishing on September 1, 2012
Genres: General Fiction
Source: Author

The Almond Tree is an epic novel, a drama of the proportions of The Kite Runner, but set in Palestine.

Michelle Cohen Corasanti delivers a universal story of human courage and perseverance in her debut novel. Beginning in a small rural village, a young boy named Ichmad comes of age from the 1950s to 2010 in a journey of enlightenment and understanding of the climate that surrounds him.

The Almond Tree is an inspirational story of unfathomable pain and an incredible perseverance. The book humanizes a culture and brings characters from a distant land to life, with a family united by love but divided by their personal beliefs. From Ichmad’s staunchly traditional and at times overbearing mother, to his father who believes in the power of education, the crux of the family’s story lies in the growing dispute between two brothers who choose very different paths in order to create a new future.

Michelle Cohen Corasanti’s personal experience of living in Israel for seven years while attending high school and obtaining her undergraduate degree in Middle Eastern studies from the Hebrew University lends her the perspective, insight and ability to shed new light on a controversial history. The Almond Tree showcases the resilience of the human spirit and brings forth a message of the necessity of education and a plan for peace in the conflict.

Recently, my dad asked what I was reading and I replied “The Almond Tree”.  His response was “That sounds boring”.  He could not be farther from the truth.  You should never judge a book by its title.

From the start, it is made clear that The Almond Tree is a dark, heartbreaking story of adversity, race  and being able to rise above it all.

The Almond Tree, strangely enough, reminds me of Life of Pi minus the animals and the raft.  Huh, you may ask, where is the comparison?  I find the lead characters, Pi and Ichmad to be of the same mold and fictional or no are someone to look up to.  Thus, when he befalls hard times a bit of the reader in me died.

In all honesty, The Almond Tree made me sad.  Although I could not stop reading, longing to hear Ichmad’s story, rooting for him all the way, and just when I thought there was a speck of light at the end of the tunnel, BAM, his brother is gravely injured or BAM his wife is killed.  Seriously?  Talk about kicking a dog when it’s down.  What added insult to injury (for me) was the fact that he always put others before himself, living in a borderline dump while studying in the U.S. in order to send money home to his family and agreeing to an arranged marriage because he knows it would make them happy.  Aww, where can I find one of those?

I wish I could say The Almond Tree had a happy ending, but I found it bittersweet.  Ichmad becomes successful and happy in his marriage.  As for his brother, I wish I could say the same.  Crippled and bitter after his accident he has gone underground only to resurface years later in Gaza.  The descriptions of the environment there had my eyes wide open and shocked beyond words.  The devastation that can only end in heartbreak.  The Almond Tree reminds you that the world is not a perfect place and stays with you long after the last page has been turned.


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