Abdel-Fattah, Randa. Where the Streets Had a Name. Scholastic Press, 2010. ISBN 9780545172929. $17.99. 313 p.
Reviewer: Sandra L. Tidwell
Reading Level: Intermediate
Genre: Fiction; Historical Fiction;
Subject: Palestinian Arabs; Arab-Israeli conflict; Family Life--Bethlehem; Books--Reviews;
Life for thirteen-year-old Hyaat and her Palestinian family has not been the same since they watched their home being bulldozed to make way for a new highway in Jerusalem. They moved to Bethlehem to make a new start, but they must obey random and lengthy curfews, show identification cards at armed checkpoints, and obtain travel permits to leave the city. When Hyaat’s grandmother says that she would feel better if she could touch the soil of her homeland before she dies, Hyaat and her friend Sam set off to get some Jerusalem soil and bring it back in a humus jar. Although the dangerous journey is short in distance, they don’t arrive home until after dark due to the checkpoints and rules which divide the Palestinian and Israeli cultures.
Told in first-person by Hyaat, Where the Streets Had a Nave gives readers an insightful view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the eyes of a Palestinian family. The process of Hyatt and Sam’s journey to Jerusalem is slow paced, but it is strategically done and leads to a powerful climax. Hyaat sums up the theme of the book by saying: “In the end we are all of us only human beings who laugh the same, and that one day the world will realize that we simply want to live as a free people, with hope and dignity and purpose.” A brief glossary at the end of the book defines the few Arabic words that are sprinkled throughout the text.
Volume 31, no. 3 (January/February 2011)
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