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TASTING THE SKY by Ibtisam Barakat Kirkus Star


A Palestinian Childhood

by Ibtisam Barakat

Pub Date: May 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-374-35733-1
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

It’s the first night of the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and Arab countries. Three-year-old Ibtisam, hunting frantically for a shoe, loses her family as they join the throng of anxious Palestinians fleeing Ramallah into Jordan. Desperate hours will elapse before the family is reunited. This beautifully written memoir of the author’s childhood on the Israeli-occupied West Bank unfolds against a harsh backdrop of war and cultural displacement. The family endures poverty, separations and frequent relocation. Yet life goes on, by turns surprising, funny, heartbreaking and rich with possibility. In an overcrowded Jordanian school-room housing refugees, Ibtisam discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arab alphabet, and a key unlocking the magical world of written words. Courageous and curious, but by no means always well-behaved, Ibtisam and her brothers find ways to assert their strong wills in defiance of the authorities that govern their lives. The injustices that rankle come at the hands of parents and teachers, not broader geopolitical realities. A compassionate, insightful family and cultural portrait. (map, historical note, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10+)