Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

I absolutely loved this book!  Non fiction is usually not my favorite genre, but I really loved this.  Being an English major I read a lot, a lot, a lot in college (did I mention I had to read a lot in college??), and looking back I think all of what I read was fiction (I don't think textbooks count at non-fiction literature, they are just textbooks).  I don't think I ever read a really, good non-fiction book for any of my English classes, so I have really not been a big fan of non-fiction, but this changed my mind.  After reading this I can say that well-written non-fiction can rival good fiction any day.  I think one reason I loved this is because it explained so well--in language anyone can understand the conflict in the Middle East.  Why is there always fighting in Israel?  What is going on?  I never really understood it or knew until I read this.  In reading the reviews it said that one high school teacher was having her whole 9th grade class read it.   I agree and applaud that teacher, and I am going to have my 8th grader read it.  It is appropriate and will help them learn and understand so much about the area and conflict.  In a very short, short synopsis the book starts in about 1917 and is about an Arab family that is forced to leave their home by Jews without any compensation into a refugee camp.  The home is given to a Jewish family from Bulgaria who have no knowledge why the previous family left.  The home has a lemon tree in the back yard--thus the title.  Years after the children of both of these families have grown up, the Arab son is finally able to travel back to his boyhood home, and he is met at the door by the Jewish girl that grew up there after he left with her having no knowledge of why or how he left.  This Arab man and Jewish woman develop a friendship from what they have shared--their home and lemon tree-- and try to work out how to make things better.  This helped me to see how complex a situation this is--no one side is all right and the other all wrong.  Many wrongs have been done on both sides and a better way to fix things needs to be found for these people who still suffer.  An excellent read.  I would highly recommend it.