Mornings in Jenin

Mornings in Jenin

by Susan Abulhawa
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Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

Mornings in Jenin is a multi-generational story about a Palestinian family. Forcibly removed from the olive-farming village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejos are displaced to live in canvas tents in the Jenin refugee camp. We follow the Abulhejo family as they live through a half century of violent history. Amidst the loss and fear, hatred and pain, as their tents are replaced by more forebodingly permanent cinderblock huts, there is always the waiting, waiting to return to a lost home.

The novel's voice is that of Amal, the granddaughter of the old village patriarch, a bright, sensitive girl who makes it out of the camps, only to return years later, to marry and bear a child. Through her eyes, with her evolving vision, we get the story of her brothers, one who is kidnapped to be raised Jewish, one who will end with bombs strapped to his middle. But of the many interwoven stories, stretching backward and forward in time, none is more important than Amal's own. Her story is one of love and loss, of childhood and marriage and parenthood, and finally the need to share her history with her daughter, to preserve the greatest love she has.

Set against one of the twentieth century's most intractable political conflicts, Mornings in Jenin is a deeply human novel - a novel of history, identity, friendship, love, terrorism, surrender, courage, and hope. Its power forces us to take a fresh look at one of the defining conflicts of our lifetimes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608190461
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 02/02/2010
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 78,274
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Susan Abulhawa was born to refugees of the Six Day War of 1967, and moved to the United States as a teenager. In 2001, she founded Playgrounds for Palestine, Inc., to build playgrounds for children in occupied territories. A biologist, mother, and activist, Susan has contributed essays to the New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, and Philadelphia Inquirer, among other publications. Mornings in Jenin, her first novel, was published in a hardcover edition by Journey Publications in 2006 under the title The Scar of David, but fell out of print. It will now be widely available for the first time, in a fully revised edition. Her Web site is

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Mornings in Jenin 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Litfan More than 1 year ago
"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off:" one of my favorite quotes, from Gloria Steinem, aptly captures the experience of reading "Mornings in Jenin." As someone who grew up with westernized versions of history, I'm ashamed to admit I'd been relatively clueless about the Palestinian experience. This novel reached inside me, challenged everything I thought I knew, and broke my heart. I've read a handful of books in my life that were truly mind-altering experiences, and this was one of them. I finished the book last week and it's still haunting me. The novel covers most of the 20th century and into the 21st through the eyes of one Palestinian family, and spans Palestine, Israel and America as the family members struggle to find safety. A beautiful portrait is painted of a family rich in history, tradition, and devout faith. But war touches each generation, leaving none unscathed. The author captures the psychological terror of living through war, especially as it looks to children. The prose of the novel is just exquisite. While the stories are heart-wrenching, there is also a strong note of hope and resilience that resonates throughout the novel. Abulhawa does an incredible job of showing the reader what it has meant to be a Palestinian in the last century, and through her fictional characters, she presents a stunning truth that many of our history books, sadly, have not. Very highly recommended.
dwellNC More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story. Although it is a novel, and technically fiction, the story describes the tragic situation in Palestine very well. A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stumbled across this very well-written book and hope that it gets the readings it deserves. Other people have described it better than I can. Definitely one of those books that everyone should read. Would be a great read for a book-club. It is a book that sticks with you long after reading it.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best-written and moving books I ever read.
fljustice More than 1 year ago
"Mornings in Jenin" by Susan Abulhawa is many things. In summary, it's the story of one family's struggle and survival through over sixty years of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, carrying us from the refugee camp of Jenin to Jerusalem to Lebanon and the anonymity of America. A patriarch dies returning to his stolen farm, a baby is taken from his Arab family and raised by survivors of the holocaust, a father and daughter read together in the early dawn of a refugee camp dreaming of a brighter future, two girls play together under the guns of an occupying army forming a life-long friendship, a young women raises her daughter - alone - in the safety of America but returns to the horrors of war. "Mornings in Jenin" is a love story. It's the story of four generations of one family's love for each other through the trials of dispossession, diaspora and death. A father's love provides the inspiration for his children to seek education in spite of huge odds. A mother's love provides the strength to endure horrible loss. A husband's love turns him from the path of revenge and destruction. A brother's longing for love leads him on a life-long journey for acceptance. One character describes the depth of their love like this: "It is the kind of love you can know only if you have felt the intense hunger that makes your body eat itself at night. The kind you know only after life shields you from falling bombs or bullets passing through your body. It is the love that dives naked toward infinity's reach. I think it is where God lives." "Mornings in Jenin" is also a horror story. Not in the classic sense of vampires, zombies or mysterious slashers, but in the sense of everyday horrific acts "ordinary" humans do to one another that populates our news: kidnapping children, political rape, murder and torture. This book slashes through the thin veneer of fiction surrounding the "Palestinian problem" in the Middle East and shows us the stark reality of a people dispossessed. It's not a new story; humans have been killing each other for land and resources from the dawn of time. But told through the lives of individuals, this inhumanity is a visceral punch in the gut, stealing your breath, and leaving you in tears. "Mornings in Jenin" is a political statement. The author is the daughter of Palestinian refugees and grew up in the US, but she's worked in the camps and visited Jenin shortly after the 2002 Israeli invasion of the camp. It was that experience, and subsequent cover-up of the massacre there, that led her to write this novel. She makes little effort to be "balanced" or present the "Israeli side" because that version is what is front and center in Western media. Her purpose is to correct the imbalance; to tell the "Palestinian side" -- which is generally ignored in the mainstream -- through literature. It is relentlessly sad with a slim hope for change at the end. Ultimately, "Mornings in Jenin" is a wonderful piece of literature about an enormously difficult subject. The writer obviously grew up reading poetry. The sentences and paragraphs sing with a poetic rhythm and interesting choice of words. I recommend this book, but beware it is an emotional roller-coaster.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written. Good story line, and definitely takes the emotions for a ride.
ummsalah More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be a great read. If one is lookinfg for a page turner in a book, this is it. It has everything from love to murder, from family to friends, from birth to death. I would recommand this book to anyone who is in search of good information. It is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent depiction of the plight of the Palestinian people
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel, more.than anything I've read on the Palestinian situation, humanizes the Palestinian state of mind. We viscerally feel her pain and agony on each page, and several passages have brought me to tears. The author writes lyrically, and in such a way that you feel and identify with her every observation and emotion. This book should be on every required reading list in schools, and in every book club in the country.
Maysoon More than 1 year ago
A wonderfull heartbreaking story about a family struggle under the Israeli occupation. It is about hope, suffering, and loss. It is a must read  masterpiece.  Many thanks to the author Susan for her great talent and courage to tell the world the Palestinian side of the conflict.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story represents, from a personal family point of view, of the suffering that has existed since time began. The brutal quest to claim land happens, in all corners of our globe, as our history tells; an inate human desire to have better & more no matter the cost.
Sarijj More than 1 year ago
What I write pales in comparison to what you will find in the writing style and story within the pages of this book. If I could adequately describe how this book made me feel, I still would not do the book justice. Mornings in Jenin is the story of four generations of Palestinians living through the birth of Israel and the never ending war that follows. The story centers on Amal, a women who is born in a refugee camp. Her story is one of loss, love and redemption. I asked to review this particular book because I have always questioned the war between Israel and Palestine. I am torn between understanding the need for a permanent homeland after living through the horrors of WW2 and the way in which the country of Isreal was settled. When I was younger I would ask my elders to explain the actions of the two nations but try as they might, none could truly explain both sides. The issue of the two nations within one setting is very polarizing. I would hear about the Palestine terrorist but not the people. As a result I know little about the human story of Palestinians and thought this book may offer some insight into their world. Abulhawa's writing style is nothing short of amazing. Though this book is heartbreaking at every turn Abulhawa's words sing out. Yes, they sing out and you as a reader are caught up in her song. Never mind that at times the pain becomes unbearable, the song of her words compel you the reader to stay with her. A little past half way I wanted to give up; there was too much death and heartache, but I stuck with it as the story needed to be told. As much as it hurt to hear it, this story does need to be told. We need to hear about the aftermaths of war. Not because we need to take one side or the other, but because we should pause before we pick a side. Abulhawa shows us that war scorches the lives of those who lay in the path of triumph. No one really wins in war expect death and pain as Abulhawa so vividly tells us. After finishing the book I sat for a moment trying to collect my thoughts. A part of me disliked having to deal with the emotions and questions that washed over me while another part was so taken by the character and lives in Mornings in Jenin I was almost sad to have come to the end of the tale. For a few moments I was not sure if I could recommend this book or not as it is so full of loss but it dawned on me that one of the reasons I kept reading was because it opened my eyes to what real sadness and pain are. Sometimes we Americans get so caught up in our daily drama we tend to forget we are blessed, even when we are struggling. Mornings in Jenin will make you think, question and maybe cry. It is a testament to a people that before now had no voice. I highly recommend this book.
lemur29 More than 1 year ago
Absolutely incredible. Abulhawa has written a gripping account of a people so ravaged by war I do not know how they still have the strength to stay living -- it is the first novel I have read that brought me to tears. As a young Westerner who grew up in a sheltered family and knew nothing about the Israel-Palestine conflict save brief mentions of it on the news, I now feel that I have so much more context with which to understand what I hear about -- and a more complete picture of how and why this area of the world is so war-torn. I was required to read this book for a trip to Israel I am going on later in the spring and am so glad I have been touched by Abulhawa's words.
reizlreads More than 1 year ago
Well written and gripping, this novel travels from the now-occupied territory of Palestine to the United States. It traces the aftermath of the naqba-the disaster- of Palestinian dispossession through the life of one family, including their intertwined relations with an Israeli Jewish family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Blurb wise suggest a basic cataloging paragraph including library of congress subject before a brief sentence of genre combos subject matter alone can be a big turnoff as can genre sub combos as is too much info so me like a book just because it is a 30 min read! I borrowed kite runner and was totally disgusted and as one of the library books we filled out a review on for others to read you can imagine what i wrote. Page counter
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Mornings in Jenin is a historical novel covering four generations of the Abulheja family from Palestine, who were forced, by military Zionists, to move from their ancestral home in Ein Hod in 1948. With the initial outpouring of European Jewish immigrants escaping from Nazi persecution, the people of Ein Hod shared their olives and allowed the Europeans to settle on the land. However, the Zionists were desperate for land and would take all that they could get. Even though Ein Hod was not bombed, as were several neighboring villages, the residents were sent into exile. During the devastating expulsion, Ismael, Hasan¿s and Dalia¿s baby, was abducted by an Israel soldier, who took him home to his wife,Jolanta, who was tortured by the Nazis during WWII. The baby¿s name was changed to David. Amal, the youngest child of Hasan and Dalia, was born in the Refugee Camp of Jenin and grew up with her older brother, Yousef, without knowing the whereabouts of her brother, Ismael. The story follows the family¿s daily experiences, kinship, friendships, displacements, disappearances, wounds, sufferings, and deaths from 1941 through 2002. During the 1967 war, Yousef became a prisoner and encountered his brother, David, at a checkpoint. He recognized David (born Ismael) because of a scar on his face, inflicted during an accident when he was a baby. The author obviously wants to set the record straight about the atrocities that were inflicted on the Palestinian people, including events in Jenin, the Shabra and Shatila Refugee camps in Lebanon, the invasion and carnage of Lebanon, the intifada, suicide bombings, and the relentless retaliations on each side of the conflict. The characters lash out at Americans and their dealings with the PLO. One might wonder why Amal would especially extol the Palestinian capacity for love, due to their sufferings and losses, comparing it to the American¿s shallow, passionless love, even after Americans welcomed her to study at universities, raise her American born daughter, restore a house, and arrange for immigration visas for other members of her family. Ironically, she later compares herself to the fallen victims of 911. There are few hopeful delights in this sad story, but when they occur, the reader will rejoice and be taken back to the days in Ein Hod when Grandfather Yehya Abulheja and Grandmother Basima Abulheja lived in peace, raised their children, exchanged food gifts with their Jewish friends, enjoyed the company of their neighbors, and lived for the land, family, and God, not for nationalism. The author¿s autobiographical chapter is also optimistic, and it tells of Amals studies at an orphanage in East Jerusalem and her scholarship. It is odd that the author¿s spelling of the ancestral village is ¿Ein Hod¿, because academic writings state that the Arabic spelling is ¿Ein Houd¿, which means Spring of Trough, which seems to be a reference to the agrarian lifestyle of the people in that area. The Hebrew spelling, ¿Ein Hod¿, means Spring of Glory or Spring of Beauty. It is an actual village in Northern Israel, not far from Haifa. Anyone who reads this book and knows anything about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will believe that this novel is unequivocally controversial and foments heated reactions from both sides of the debate. Its theme must be Peace, a relentless dream.
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