Book list Since her Palestinian family lost their home, times have been hard for Hayaat, 13, who lives in Bethlehem on the occupied West Bank. To try to comfort her beloved dying grandmother, Sitti, Hayaat journeys to get some soil from the Jerusalem garden that Sitti longs for. Hayaat's friend, Samy, joins her on her quest. His mother was killed, and his imprisoned father is a heroic activist to some, but Samy is bitter: He traded me for the cause. At the many checkpoints, the friends encounter soldiers, both brutal and kind, and also an Israeli peacenik couple who helps the kids get past the towering barriers. Hayaat's immediate, wry, and irreverent narrative intensifies the story of anguished struggle and Palestinian politics. The author leavens the story with humor; Sitti farts a lot, for example. The suspense builds, though, to heartbreaking revelations, particularly about the violent episodes that Hayaat has tried hard not to remember.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publishers Weekly This suspenseful novel reveals the plight of Palestinians living in occupied territory, as 13-year-old Hayaat braves the journey from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, trying to fulfill the wish of her ailing grandmother, who dreams of touching the soil of her home once more. In her first middle-grade novel, Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?) crafts a classic quest and adeptly sketches the strong friendship between Hayaat and her soccer-obsessed friend Samy, who accompanies her through checkpoints, and the memorable cast they encounter along the way, which includes a pair of Israeli peace activists. The rest of Hayaat's family anchor the narrative and prove equally compelling, including Hayaat's older sister, who is preparing for her wedding; her tenacious mother; and her depressed father. Clues to the disfiguring accident that scarred Hayaat and caused the death of her best friend build, illuminating a source of fear and sorrow. Still, Hayaat manages to hold onto hope: "Maybe it's not about survival. Maybe we have to learn how to live with purpose." The heroine's courage, warmth, and humor despite mounting challenges will win over readers. Ages 9-12. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Physically and emotionally scarred, Hayaat lives behind the Israeli-built Separation Wall in the West Bank City of Bethlehem. When her beloved grandmother falls ill, the 13-year-old decides to make her way to Jerusalem to fill an empty hummus jar with soil from the land of her grandmother's ancestral home. She is certain that this will mend her heart. Unfortunately, although Jerusalem is merely minutes away, curfews, checkpoints, and an identity card that doesn't allow her to cross the border mean that Hayaat and her soccer-loving, troublemaker friend Samy face a perilous journey. This novel is an important addition to a very small body of existing books that tell the Palestinian story for young people, and an intensely realistic setting brings that story to life. It is full of humor, adventure, and family love, but doesn't try to hide the heartbreaking and often bitter reality of life under Occupation. Abdel-Fattah manages to walk the line of truth-telling and sensitivity. She has avoided vilifying Israelis and, in fact, Hayaat and Samy could not have completed their journey without the help of a Jewish Israeli couple sympathetic to their cause. A cast of quirky characters adds both humor and realism to the story, making the devastating circumstances more palatable to young readers and keeping the story light in spite of a heavy topic and some dark realizations as the plot moves forward.-Sharon Senser McKellar, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.