Publisher- Fingerprint Publishers
Price- Rs 295
The Readers' Cosmos this time gave me a chance to review "The Almond Tree" by Michelle Cohen Corasanti and and I am thankful that they did. It was a delightful read with words woven out of pure emotions.
There's also a website for the book thealmondtreebook.com and you can also read excerpts from http://thealmondtreebook.com/about/excerpts/
The first three pages of the book are full of praises and accolades for the book and its first time author. It is compared by many to the book The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini in terms of its appeal and the way it makes you familiar, even empathetic, with the culture of a far-off land. The book does have a universal appeal as the Ahmed of Palestine can easily be someone from Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Libya- any place where human sanity is crossing swords with fanaticism. Ahmed's struggle since childhood takes you through the conditions prevailing in the region and humanizes the numbers (of victims) that we almost daily see in news.
The cover design is well done with flowers set against a barbed wire fence and a handsome young man representing Ahmed the character looking through the barbed fence with hope and determination. The back cover captures a barren landscape capturing the tough living conditions.
The language and the fonts are easy to the eye and are made for a smooth read. Hope of the characters' survival goes up and down like the pulse as the story progresses and the wordsmith has done such a complex task with use of a lucid words and common vocabulary. Kudos! Also, the familiarity with the culture makes one think that the author is from the Israel- Palestine region but reading in the introduction, you come to know that it was just based on what the author imbibed in one summer during a vacation; the respect for the way emotions are represented like one's own, increases manifold. It is this quality that sets apart good writers from great. Writing is nothing but understanding your characters and getting in their skin and this book does it well.
The story begins with a horrific incident that shakes the lives of a peaceful civilain family. This, and the way the family deals with it- sets the tone for the rest of the story. Ahmed, the protagonist witnesses death at a very early stage in his childhood and if not anything else, it makes him wiser. His intellect which exalts him from the rest of the characters specially in his academic pursuits, also enforces his identity as the protagonist. The questions that arise and the answers that he finds are what forms the rest of the story. Also, the story has emotional angles which tug at your heart, pinch you a little and make you smile and cry about how life plays us. Ahmed's marriage to Yasmine, the village belle, being one such piece. One cannot but feel sorry for her at times.
All in all, the book does a great job in character-detailing, story-telling and descriptions. I recommend the book to all who are looking for a good, thought-provoking read. Having certain bit of realism in it, the book might also interest non-fiction fans. I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars!
This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com