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.


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