Customer Reviews for

Under the Persimmon Tree

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

This is one of the best realistic fiction books I have ever read!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in Afghanistan during 9-11? If you have, then read Under The Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples. Under The Persimmon Tree is a book about a young girl, Najmah, who lives with her family in Kunduz in a city calle...
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in Afghanistan during 9-11? If you have, then read Under The Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples. Under The Persimmon Tree is a book about a young girl, Najmah, who lives with her family in Kunduz in a city called Golestan. Najmah is living a normal life in Afghanistan until one day her dad, Babajan, and her older brother, Nur, are taken away by the Taliban to help fight in the war. Later, while she is returning home, she is hillside and the ground starts to shake and suddenly, she sees her mom run back into the house with her newborn baby brother, Habib. Bombs cause Najmah to be covered with rocks and also the house collapses thus killing her mother and brother. Now Najmah is on a journey as she must find her brother and father so they can be reunited. The other story in the book is about an American woman named Nusrat, that has converted to Islam and moves to Afghanistan with her husband, Faiz in order to help his country. Faiz assists as a medic and must travel to all different places and Nusrat starts a school in a refugee camp to help teach the Afghan children. Nusrat wonders if she will ever see her husband again. I was able to read this book for a class in 6th grade and I liked this book because I like realistic fiction and the book gives you insight into what it would have been like to be in Afghanistan during 9-11. I would recommend this book to any kids 11 and older who can handle emotional, realistic fictional books, and who are interested in Afghanistan or 9-11.

posted by Mitchell_J on January 31, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

War in Afghanistan Deranging Ordinary Life: An Afghan Girl and a

War in Afghanistan Deranging Ordinary Life: An Afghan Girl and an American Woman

This story opens with Najmah being woken up in her home in northern Afghanistan by her mother: "The day begins like every other day." The setting is quickly drawn in colorful d...
War in Afghanistan Deranging Ordinary Life: An Afghan Girl and an American Woman

This story opens with Najmah being woken up in her home in northern Afghanistan by her mother: "The day begins like every other day." The setting is quickly drawn in colorful detail as the family members attend to home and farm activities; Najmah takes their sheep and goats into the hills to graze. When she hears and sees Taliban vehicles, she hurries home to find soldiers there. They accuse the family of having offered aid to the mujahideen, raid the family's stock of food, then roughly carry off Najmah's father and brother. Meanwhile, Nusrat, an American woman who has become Muslim, is married to a Pakistani doctor, and has adopted Pakistan as home, is visiting her in-laws in the city of Peshawar in Pakistan, wondering why she hasn't heard from her husband (who is off treating war victims) for weeks.

Najmah and Nusrat's stories continue in alternating chapters. After Najmah's mother and new baby brother are killed in an air raid, Najmah, disguised as a boy, undergoes a dangerous journey that eventually brings her to the small school that Nusrat holds under a persimmon tree in her courtyard. As their separate stories converge, the girl and the woman are both waiting and searching for missing loved ones. When answers come, they are not easy or happy ones, and Najmah and Nusrat must decide what to do next. While it seems like these friends could stay together and offer each other ongoing support and companionship, ultimately they decide to go separate ways again.

Suzanne Fisher Staples succeeds in painting pictures of how ordinary life in Afghanistan is deranged by war, and of how victims must struggle to re-arrange their lives. Dari words are sprinkled throughout (readers can consult the glossary at the back, although the words are understandable in context.) It is sometimes confusing having parallel stories unfold in alternating chapters, and I found myself wishing at times that the names of the two main characters didn't both start with N. But Najmah and Nusrat are both interesting people and getting to "know" them definitely helps to personalize the abstractions of the civil war in Afghanistan and how it has spilled over into Pakistan; in this sense, I would say that the book is educational for American readers.

I liked the book, and enjoyed the location-specific details relating to geography, food, clothing, language, and Islamic customs. Some parts are very sad, although the really tough stuff is given a light touch. (For example, one of the "telling" details which hinted at tragedies without being too explicit was the mention of the market stall that sold single shoes for amputees.) One gripe is that Najmah's greedy uncle seems like a caricature. The author apparently needed a villain to hold the plot together, but didn't succeed in making him realistic, so his role in the story is a weak link. And the style of the final paragraphs is a little odd – it's basically commentary by the author about the difference between "happy" and "good" endings. It's respectful of displaced Afghans like Najmah wanting to return to their ancestral land. Yet I found it somewhat patronizing to be told so explicitly why the characters made the choices they did at the close of the story.

posted by Linden_Tree on November 8, 2012

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  • Posted November 8, 2012

    War in Afghanistan Deranging Ordinary Life: An Afghan Girl and a

    War in Afghanistan Deranging Ordinary Life: An Afghan Girl and an American Woman

    This story opens with Najmah being woken up in her home in northern Afghanistan by her mother: "The day begins like every other day." The setting is quickly drawn in colorful detail as the family members attend to home and farm activities; Najmah takes their sheep and goats into the hills to graze. When she hears and sees Taliban vehicles, she hurries home to find soldiers there. They accuse the family of having offered aid to the mujahideen, raid the family's stock of food, then roughly carry off Najmah's father and brother. Meanwhile, Nusrat, an American woman who has become Muslim, is married to a Pakistani doctor, and has adopted Pakistan as home, is visiting her in-laws in the city of Peshawar in Pakistan, wondering why she hasn't heard from her husband (who is off treating war victims) for weeks.

    Najmah and Nusrat's stories continue in alternating chapters. After Najmah's mother and new baby brother are killed in an air raid, Najmah, disguised as a boy, undergoes a dangerous journey that eventually brings her to the small school that Nusrat holds under a persimmon tree in her courtyard. As their separate stories converge, the girl and the woman are both waiting and searching for missing loved ones. When answers come, they are not easy or happy ones, and Najmah and Nusrat must decide what to do next. While it seems like these friends could stay together and offer each other ongoing support and companionship, ultimately they decide to go separate ways again.

    Suzanne Fisher Staples succeeds in painting pictures of how ordinary life in Afghanistan is deranged by war, and of how victims must struggle to re-arrange their lives. Dari words are sprinkled throughout (readers can consult the glossary at the back, although the words are understandable in context.) It is sometimes confusing having parallel stories unfold in alternating chapters, and I found myself wishing at times that the names of the two main characters didn't both start with N. But Najmah and Nusrat are both interesting people and getting to "know" them definitely helps to personalize the abstractions of the civil war in Afghanistan and how it has spilled over into Pakistan; in this sense, I would say that the book is educational for American readers.

    I liked the book, and enjoyed the location-specific details relating to geography, food, clothing, language, and Islamic customs. Some parts are very sad, although the really tough stuff is given a light touch. (For example, one of the "telling" details which hinted at tragedies without being too explicit was the mention of the market stall that sold single shoes for amputees.) One gripe is that Najmah's greedy uncle seems like a caricature. The author apparently needed a villain to hold the plot together, but didn't succeed in making him realistic, so his role in the story is a weak link. And the style of the final paragraphs is a little odd – it's basically commentary by the author about the difference between "happy" and "good" endings. It's respectful of displaced Afghans like Najmah wanting to return to their ancestral land. Yet I found it somewhat patronizing to be told so explicitly why the characters made the choices they did at the close of the story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 31, 2011

    This is one of the best realistic fiction books I have ever read!

    Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in Afghanistan during 9-11? If you have, then read Under The Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples. Under The Persimmon Tree is a book about a young girl, Najmah, who lives with her family in Kunduz in a city called Golestan. Najmah is living a normal life in Afghanistan until one day her dad, Babajan, and her older brother, Nur, are taken away by the Taliban to help fight in the war. Later, while she is returning home, she is hillside and the ground starts to shake and suddenly, she sees her mom run back into the house with her newborn baby brother, Habib. Bombs cause Najmah to be covered with rocks and also the house collapses thus killing her mother and brother. Now Najmah is on a journey as she must find her brother and father so they can be reunited. The other story in the book is about an American woman named Nusrat, that has converted to Islam and moves to Afghanistan with her husband, Faiz in order to help his country. Faiz assists as a medic and must travel to all different places and Nusrat starts a school in a refugee camp to help teach the Afghan children. Nusrat wonders if she will ever see her husband again. I was able to read this book for a class in 6th grade and I liked this book because I like realistic fiction and the book gives you insight into what it would have been like to be in Afghanistan during 9-11. I would recommend this book to any kids 11 and older who can handle emotional, realistic fictional books, and who are interested in Afghanistan or 9-11.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Review for Teachers

    Since all of the other reviews have already given a short synopsis of the book, I will just offer some ideas for teachers.

    This book offers a relevant and authentic look at the life of an Afghan girl post 9/11 trying to survive some very traumatic events in her life, and an American woman in Pakistan with her husband who is a doctor running a clinic in Afghanistan. The author alternates chapters for each character's story. The author was a news reporter covering Afghanistan and Pakistan and also worked in the same region on a women's literacy project, so her familiarity with the culture makes the book very authentic. The story allows readers to understand what it feels like to be on the Afghan side of the war. It also clears up some stereotyping about the Islam religion. Reading and education played a important role in this book. As a reader, I was disappointed with how the author ended the book. It just seemed to end without much detail. However, as a teacher, this ending lends itself very nicely to a writing assignment where the students can write their own ending for the two characters. Girls will probably relate to this story more than boys. I would definitely recommend this book for use in a middle-school classroom.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2005

    Under the Persimmon Tree

    Under the Persimmon Tree is a look at life in Afghanistan/Pakistan in the months immediately following September 11, 2001 through the eyes of two women. One is Najmah, a young Afghan girl left alone with her pregnant mother when her father and brother are conscripted by the Taliban. Her mother and the baby are killed during an air raid over their village a short time later. Now Najmah must travel to Peshwar to find her father and brother, and save their land. The other is Nusrat, an American teacher, convert of Islam, who came to Pakistan when her Afghan husband Faiz decided to return to his home to help those suffering because of the war. Their stories converge when Najmah is brought to Nusrat¿s home in Peshwar, where she teaches a school for refugee children. Together they seek answers about their families, and their future. This is a heartbreaking story, with a solid core of hope and strength. There is no happy ending, yet the future does not seem bleak. This timely and thought-provoking book is sure to be a contender for this year¿s Newbery Medal.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2013

    Legenf Legebndary

    It s a grat bk t reid i lovd it u shold raed it.


    At

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2012

    "great book"

    "great book"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    Ononon and on it goes

    Lol the funniest book ever haha jk

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    OMG

    I goy assigned to read this and i loved it was sssooo hard to put it down

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2008

    American v.s. Afgan life

    "Under the Persimmon Tree" is a great book, especially for those who would like to see how America changed the way Afghan people were affected. This story is mainly about a young Afghan girl, Najmah. The other part of the story is about the life of an American woman named Nusrat, who is in Pakistan while her husband sets up hospitals/clinics throughout the country. The book starts off very slow, only talking about how Najmah, her mother, and newborn brother wait for the father and brother(they were taken away and forced to work with the Taliban), farm, live a hard life, and are struggling to survive because of a drought. But in chapter five, the story takes a dramatic turn. Sadly, on Najmah¿s way home from letting the animals graze, American war planes started dropping bombs throughout their village. The only ones left in the village was Najmah¿s family, the rest of the village people left to take refuge. Unfortunately the mother and newborn brother were killed. This event left Najmah alone in this rough world. That¿s when she decided that she will not give up on her life. So throughout the story, the author, Suzanne Fisher Staples, shows you a first hand look on how Najmah searches for her brother and father. On her way, she meets Nusrat(the American woman that teaches), and together they teach the many young children at the small school by the persimmon tree, and search for their loved ones. <BR/> This book should be read by many people, especially teenagers, because it shows how different cultures act the same way we would in certain events. I think that this book could also open some people¿s eyes, because they will constantly think about how one nation affects many. You will also wonder about what exactly happens to Najmah and Nusrat (the book doesn¿t exactly say) in the end. In the end, Suzanne Fisher Staples definitely deserves a ¿standing ovation¿ for this book, and should continue writing about cultures different that ours, and continue to open the eyes of Americans everywhere.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2008

    addicted to it..

    at first, this book was really boring. but after chapter 5(i think), it gets really interesting!FYI, many great books start in a boring mode. i wish that there's a sequel of this book like what happened to nusrat and najmah. i love this book and became a bookworm!lol...now i admire the works of suzanne staples.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2008

    boring

    This is such a boring book.I feel bad for her though. I wish her parents were still alive.Ive WAY read more better books.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2006

    Under the Persimmon Tree

    Under the Persimmon Tree is a story about a young girl who lives in Afghanistan named Najmah. Her mother is pregnant and her father and brother, Nur, are taken by Taliban to fight in the war. The families¿ neighbors are leaving to go live in camps. They tell Najmah and her mom to come but they couldn¿t. Najmah is afraid that her uncle will get the land, if she leaves the land. Her mom gets worried because Nur or his father hasn¿t written. She gets worried. The characters in the story are brave and will do anything for their family. Staples¿ characters are young adults who lost their mother and new born brother, also the father and brother have went to war. Najmah started by leaving with her friend her husband is also in the war, while waiting for father and brother to return. ¿Everyone recognizes the black trucks the vehicles of the Taliban.¿ This is saying when those trucks come down the road, it¿s a bad sign. Everyone knows those trucks, and if they don¿t either give them food or be taken to go to war. The author¿s writing is very exciting and sad at the same time. Making an adventure in the story, when the mother and new born baby have been killed and the father and brother are at war and have not written. The Persimmon Tree is a symbol where she can go talk and think. When someone keeps reading about the girl¿s life, puts themselves in the characters position. Under the Persimmon Tree is a very interesting story with bunches of adventures. You will be ready to rock your world!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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