Article in brief: the author gives us her review of Mornings in Jenin and how she felt about reading the book.
“The reverse side of love is unbearable loss.” -Susan Abulhawa.
“Mornings in Jenin” by Susan Abulhawa doesn’t end happily. The novel tells the story of the never-ending struggles of Palestine. It opens with a scene from the present, and then Susan Abulhawa takes her readers back in time and back to the beginning of the Israeli occupation.
The Abulheja family is forcibly removed from their ancestral home in the village of Ein Hod and sent to a refugee camp in Jenin. The characters may be fictional, but their struggle is real. The pain, the loss, the tragedy and death are not only descriptive and graphic, but they’re also brutal and raw.
The novel is well-written and Abulhawa succeeded in shaping her novel to tell a love/horror story. The four generations of the Abulheja family love one another, love their homeland and love the freedom they hope to have one day. Yet, it’s mixed up with the horrors of death and the horrors delivered by war and loss. The novel extends over a period of sixty years, taking us from Ein Hod to Jenin to Jerusalem to the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila and none of those locations is saved from the horrors of the war against the people of Palestine where the survivors of the holocaust performed their own genocide against Palestine and its people.
The novel is a reminder of the massacre that doesn’t seem to end against the people of Palestine. The characters are fictional, but their stories are real and we are all aware of the pain being endured by Palestinians on a daily basis. Their loss is real, their pain is real, and the horrors they have to endure are real and have been happening since the beginning of the Israeli invasion.
“Mornings in Jenin” isn’t just a fictional literary piece. It’s a political statement targeted at the western media, which has been taking sides with the Israeli version of the story. Abulhawa tells the Palestinian version of the story. The version the western world purposely overlooks. The brutality of this version doesn’t only lie in the deaths witnessed by the characters of the book, but it also lies in the knowledge of how slim the chances are for hope, and how bleak the near future is.
I found this book to be a page turner. It was a very depressing read. “Morning’s in Jenin” is a reminder of how we sleep and avert our eyes from what is happening in Palestine. The book will leave you gutted and heartbroken. It’ll leave you wondering about how many of those characters have existed, how many of them still exist and how many of those children will be killed by Israeli soldiers. An easy 5 out of 5 for how honest and realistic this book is.
An avid reader, Maitha has always dreamt of being a recognized novelist and poet. For the last decade she focused on HR as a career, which has taken her away from her dream, but it’s never too late. Her column Pocket full of Books focuses on book reviews and doesn’t necessarily focus on a specific genre.
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