Mornings in Jenin

051218_Mornings in Jenin Cover

Mornings in Jenin

–       Susan Abulhawa

How I got this book was from a friend, a very special lady that I don’t see enough of but conversation always flows and time together always feels like spending time with wise old soul. Thank you Ursula for the lend (I can never remember if it should be lend or borrow and when each is used).

It took me a while to get through this read, a couple of weeks actually (which mounted to about 3 months) and not from a lack of interest. It was given to me shortly after starting a new job, loads of travelling and not nearly enough family time. All of these are actually what made me appreciate this read even more.

“As the people of Ein Hod were marched into dispossession, Moshe and his comrades guarded the looted the newly emptied village.”

Imagine being forced out of your home by people you don’t know, who don’t care about sentimental items you’ve collected over the years. The same people don’t care about the children, the women, the men, the elders of the community and all the memories that have been made over the years.

This story takes us through the generations of the Abulheja family, from grandparents to parents, their children and theirs. All told through the eyes of Amal, a third generation of the Abulheja family.
Amal’s mother, Dalia, marries Hasan – eldest child of Yehya and Basima. Dalia is often viewed as an outcast. Her carefree spirit, gypsy ankle bracelet and her zest for life. But life takes that away from her. Not just life but a series of events that force her to deal with life from a tender age. She is a wife, a mother, a daughter-in-law and most importantly, a woman in a time of war.

We live in times of peace, freedom in many forms but still cannot guarantee a child’s true happiness. Amal is born in times of war, uncertainty, not knowing when everything will be uprooted again and not knowing if you will see all your family members at the end of the day.  Through all those trials, Amal forges friendships throughout her young life, sisterhoods, feeling the value of family (blood and otherwise) as she grows.

“I love you eternally. What we have is made of forever.
Majid. My forever story of love, forever untold.
Love. Eternally. Forever.”

Amal, in all her terrible experiences – of death, blood, mourning of loved ones, ending of friendships, of hope, of love. Love conquers all – it is often said. Does it conquer Amal’s past? Does history repeat itself in Amal, seeing reflections of Basima and Dalia’s lives in her own?

This review does not do justice to the book. One never knows when it’s too much or too little. You will have feelings of anger, of hope of such sadness that you’ll put this read aside because of the emotions, tears and the realization that there is so much to be grateful for in our own lives.

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