Skip to main content

Book review: The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

Author: Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Publisher: Fingerprint (Prakash Books)
Pages: 352
Price on Flipkart: Rs.205

A debut novel by the Jewish-American author, this book tells a story from the eyes of a Palestinian boy, Ahmed Hamid, the eldest of 7 siblings, who lives with his family on a land that is laden with strife and hatred. The back-drop is that of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. A story told to convey the message that we need to rise above hatred and contempt to be able to bring about a peaceful co-existence.

Here's the blurb:

Ahmed Hamid, a is a gifted and very intelligent 12-year-old boy. Everyone in the village admires him and is impressed by him. Living on occupied land, his family lives with the constant fear of losing their homes, jobs and belongings. On his twelfth birthday, this fear becomes a harsh reality. Ahmed’s father gets imprisoned and all their possessions and their home gets confiscated. What will Ahmed do to save his family? He embarks on an inspiring journey using his intellect to rescue his family.

Now, I don't have an in-depth knowledge of the Israel-Palestine history, hence wouldn't be in a position to validate or critically evaluate the portions of historical significance. My review is  purely of the fictional story that is woven around the premise.

The pluses:

The story-telling is very engaging. In some ways, it did remind me of "The Kite Runner". The first few chapters left me disturbed as Michelle delved into the details of the brutal manner in which Ahmed loses his little sister and the hopeless situation in which Ahmed and his family live. The story then rises to that of hope and positivity when Ahmed, who has a natural talent for math and science, is shown to rise above all the desperation, killings and abject poverty and achieve academic and material success. 

The minuses:

There are some flaws and inconsistencies in the narration and there are times when you feel that the side-characters could've been given more shades. The protagonist hogs most of the story-line, but his character has been etched well. While Ahmed chooses to follow his father's advice and path of seeking goodness even in adverse conditions, Abbas, his brother, seeks refuge in hatred. It would've been nice if the author could have elaborated a bit of Abbas's side of the story too. That way it would've been a more balanced portrayal.

For a debut novel, it is pretty good. I'd recommend it for the some insightful advice given by Baba, Ahmed's father. 

My rating: 4/5


This review is posted as part of Book Review Program by The Literary Jewels.


  1. I am currently reading this book and I agree with some of the points. It is no 'Kite Runner' for me but a good read nonetheless.

  2. Do let me know what you felt, Jas.


Post a Comment

Would love to hear from you :-)
Also, please click the subscribe by Email link below the comment form to get follow-up comments to your inbox..

Popular posts from this blog

Caffeinated attraction

Words jostled inside Anusha's head as she snaked her way between the tables to her favourite spot in the cozy cafe. She slid her laptop out, rested the bag beside her on the silver grey cushioned sofa and called for her favourite cappuccino. They made it just the way she preferred: the right amount of milk and coffee, the closest alternative to the filter kaapi her mom made.

Gazing out of the glass window, she sipped her beverage, letting the bitter-sweet taste linger, weighing her thoughts before her fingers could fly on the keyboard to give shape to them. The white fluffs of clouds against the clear blue skies floated gently with the summer breeze and they seemed, to the writer in her, like mischevious sheep that had strayed off the flock.

Oh, well, it's my mind that's straying now. Need to get my act right for my next submission. Anusha willed herself back to the present.

The cafe was Anusha's muse, the mecca she haunted during the weekends for the past three months…

The wedding

Holding hands under the inky blue bejeweled canopy, they swore allegiance to each other. Bedecked in a brown shimmery, the translucent veil flowing away from her coy face, she looked up nervously at him. He replied with an imperceptible nod that spoke volumes of quiet reassurance.

Family and friends had gathered for the ceremony that would bind the two lovers for life. The atmosphere was electrifying and the air abuzz with each of them signaling to the other in a frenzy of activity. A huddle in here, a huddle there, some grouping for a light tete-a-tete, some to discuss an important ritual.

The younger lot broke away from the crowd, not entirely connecting with the significance of the gathering, their individual frames dotting the arena like lost stars.

At the precise moment that would signify the sacred union, the chief called for everyone's unwavering attention. The scattered swarm, even the ones that had strayed, converged obediently towards the altar. Each member of the audie…

Rotting humanity

Doc, there's an emergency!

The breaking news flashes the brutal carnage. Images and voices float in my mind as I drive in manic speed to the hospital.

Of sirens blazing. Of toys and limbs lying scattered on a carpet of red and brown.

Oxygen! I scream. Pump, harder.

Doc, there's no pulse.

Shoulders slump.

I witness grief fuse into flames that rise up collectively at the mass funeral. The ashes fall lightly on me.

Will the stench of hate ever recede?

*** Written for a prompt at