Monday, January 6, 2014

The Bitter Sweet Almonds

Book : The Almond Tree
Author: Michelle Cohen Corsanti
ISBN : 9788172344870
Pages: 352
Price: 295
Rating : 4/5

Something From The Book:
“You cannot go back and make a new start, but you can start now and make a new ending”

Life is not gonna be a bed of roses ever. You have to frame and shape it, such that your death bed surely is one. Just never give up!

How much do we actually know about the Israel Palestine feud that has been going on for ages? About the plight of people living in Gaza Strip and West Bank? Well frankly I didn’t know much before I started reading The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corsanti but I must have hunted 30 reports on the condition from Google from the day Reader’s Cosmos and glad I did that else it would have been impossible to feel the book cause this book is meant to be felt. Some books just have too much and you go browsing the pages like crazy to know more and some books have so much in them that after every chapter you feel what the protagonist is going through. The Almond Tree definitely is a fine example of the later.
The book starts on a very powerful note. The first few chapters are almost like a blow. Set in the backdrop of the feud in West Bank, the books revolves around the Hamids – A Palestinian family whose suffering start when the Israeli government takes over everything that was there. The protagonist of the story, Ahmed, sees all his dreams turn to ash at the tender age of twelve when his father is imprisoned and they are forced to live a doomed life. But it is Ahmed’s determination and goodness that help him crawl up to existence again. He paves his path from the sufferings to success using his will power and intelligence. The story is heart wrenching and inspiring at the same time. The author adds a very realistic facet to the story by not making the Hamids a perfect family, they are flawed, they give in to hunger, anger and hatred but Ahmed rises above all to achieve something no one would have thought he would accomplish, ever.
The book explores the Feud and the sufferings very vividly. It matches the emotional quotient of Kite Runner to quite a level.  There are a lot of instances you feel like swearing, crying, letting out a sigh of pity and all this just forces you to get involved with the story. But this is where the biggest flaw of the book lies too. It focuses too much on the evil doings of the Israeli side and just pure suffering for the Palestinians, but the fact is not so and thus the story somehow loses its authenticity.  Also the story takes you on a rustic fairy tale ride and no matter how much you enjoy the ride in the end you can’t help but question, “Wasn’t that a bit over the top?”

  1. The backdrop – The book for me was a 3.5 but the description and the backdrop sure get the extra 0.5.
  2. The suffering and the determination of Ahmed – As a character Ahmed gets a gold star. Not because he was too good, but because he goes on and on and makes us believe nothing can actually pull us down if we decide to challenge fate. He is an inspirational character for sure.
  3. Characterization of Baba and Abbas  - They were realistic and just perfect. Baba was the sweetest character of the book and Abbas was the perfect rebel. The fact that a family that goes through so much can never be perfect was so well inculcated in Abbas’ character that I kind of fell in love with him too.
  4. The touch of the all serving Almond Tree – Everyone should get one. No spoilers so can’t explain anything here, sorry people you will need to read the book to find out.
  5. Editing – Another gold star to the author here. Being her Debut novel I really didn’t think the editing would be of pro level, but was pleasantly surprised. The book flows from scene to scene, situation to situation and year to years like a river with fresh clear water. You see every facet and remember it and the editing makes the book is easy to connect to.
  1. Too much saintly approach – I believe every hero is flawed. There are layers to heroes and villains. But in this case Ahmed is just too good to be true, passionate about math and guilt ridden after his father’s imprisonment – that is all the layers we get to see of him and this leaves the character underdeveloped. Also Nora – she is portrayed as the perfect girl who is almost like a saint. Real life people can’t be that way. Everybody is flawed in some way or the other and thus the story loses its authenticity.
  2. Israelis are just bad – They are monsters and the author does everything to embed this thought in our minds. Agreed the condition in Gaza strip is gloomy and inhumane but there are always two sides to a coin. I felt the book showed just one side, the other was completely untouched which is something I seriously didn’t like.
  3. The end – Like I mentioned earlier, the end was overkill. Achievement is appreciated and would make sense also, but too much of anything is always bad, and this case the end was.
All and whole the book is a good read and very inspiring. It takes us with the phrase “Every cloud has a silver lining” on a rugged trip and leaves us with a satisfied smile in the end. At a lot of points the book turns very depressing but picks up steadily every time. I would give the book a 4 on five star rating – 3.5 on the book and 0.5 for the premises and for making me read about the age old war. People who are feeling low for some reason in life, this is a must read for them cause it makes you appreciate your life no matter how bad you think it is.

P.S. "This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books log on to"