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Susan Abulhawa’s The Scar of David //

03.11.10
bydanah

scarWhen I am given a book and a time-line to read it, I usually don’t because I feel like I’m being forced into something. This was the case with Susan Abulhawa’s The Scar of David. My mother insisted I read it immediately and even followed up weekly with, “did you read it?” phone calls. Finally, I decided it was time to open it and realized the reason behind her eagerness: it was that good.

This historical fiction book follows the Abulheja family, Palestinians from Ein Hod, a village ethnically cleansed by Israel in 1948, a process which left over 750,000 Palestinians homeless. The story is narrated by Amal, who recounts a series of events common to many Palestinian families. Amal’s brother, a toddler named Ishmael is lost amidst the madness when the family is expelled from their village and taken by a Jewish family. He is raised as an Israeli named David and goes on to become a soldier, only to find out his real identity through a series of events that brings him and his Palestinian family together. Amal’s mother loses her mind due to several of these misfortunes. Her brother joins the armed struggle prevalent in the camps after the 1967 War, and finally, Amal gets an opportunity to escape her destiny in the camp and realize her dreams by studying abroad.

What Abulhawa manages to do is provide readers with a history lesson that doesn’t flow like a textbook, but more like a touching and often heartbreaking novel that deals with family, love, identity, courage, displacement and a variety of other strong themes close to some, if not all, Palestinians’ hearts. The book travels through time and invites readers to journey through Palestine pre-Nakba; Palestine after the establishment of the state of Israel and the creation of the refugee problem; the Six-Day War of 1967 and its consequences; the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon; the Lebanese Civil War; up through the 2002 massacres at Jenin Refugee Camp, all via Amal’s storytelling.

Though the book starts off slow, it picks up after the development of the characters and the exile of the Palestinians. While the Palestine-Israel conflict is known to many, detailed accounts of the expulsion of the Palestinians and their continued struggle isn’t. If you know someone who is interested in finding out more about the conflict, let them start with this piece of fiction before moving on to the complicated research. They’ll appreciate it.

This book was also published under the title Mornings in Jenin. Buy on Amazon >>

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About the Author: Danah Abdulla was not born in Canada but has lived here since the age of two. A Palestinian with a degree from the University of Ottawa in something other than Engineering (Mass Communications, minor Commerce), she lives in Toronto where she works as a Digital Cultivator for a big advertising agency. She’s a freelance writer and a blogger. She likes to doodle, read, make jokes, and dance.



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