Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

We read books for any number of reasons, for pleasure, to learn, to while away the hours but sometimes we read books because we must, because what is hidden within their pages is of the utmost importance. This is such a book.
Set in Palestine, Mornings in Jenin follows the lives of the Abulheja family throughout the ever changing history and landscape of Palestine. Through the character of Amal a profound and touching story unravels intersecting war, history, love and loss. Often in post- colonial literature the ramifications of colonialism on a particular country or region are dissected, but what of a country still grappling with conflict and occupation? What becomes of their stories? Mornings in Jenin feels like a book that I’ve been waiting to read for a long time, because so few works of fiction from the region make it to the mainstream and even fewer still are of this calibre. That being said, I still approached the novel with trepidation, scared that it might be overly sentimental, biased or not convey the sense of loss that is so often etched on the hearts of displaced peoples. I needn’t have bothered. What Abulhawa has created is a profoundly moving human novel filled with passion, grief and hope. Abulhawa’s writing style is sophisticated, lyrical and has a rare disarming sincerity about it that travels straight from her heart to yours. This is a book that matters. It matters to Abulhawa, and as a defining novel from the region it should matter to us. Mornings in Jenin gives a unique insight into the heart of a matter that is often considered but rarely contemplated and if you let it, it will break down barriers, bring you to tears and propose a new paradigm for viewing an old and devastating conflict.

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