Non Fiction

In My Mother’s Footsteps by Mona Hajjar Halaby

Narrated by Lameece Issaq

This is a book I chose to read/listen to because I am unaware of the actual basis of the issues in Palestine and everything related to that. I originally got myself an ARC of the book but ended up listening to an audiobook of it and only checking out the photos in the ebook. The photos do add perspective to the narrative and therefore might be an added bonus for anyone trying to decide between the different formats.

The author is the daughter of a Christian refugee who fled from Palestine when she was a girl and only returns over the course of the book in her eighties. In spite of this distance, the country is etched into the author’s heart and mind. She even marries a man with similar emotions. The author is very clear about the tone of the narrative and the story she intends to convey. She has written it well and the narrator did a great job in conveying the weight that is carried through the entire course of the book.

The author teaches conflict resolution and uses it at the school level to try and make it easier for the average citizen living in troubled areas to figure out the smaller issues. I found it interesting and all the other methods discussed were illuminating as well.

The issue comes from my own personal bias. It is not an issue per se, but something that changed the way I viewed the book. I come from a country with a colonial past. The very fact that I am only comfortable expressing these thoughts in the language that I am in is a testament to that past (however long ago it might be). People did go into countries sure that their culture was superior and in some cases the only way things should be and then deployed their own changes. They took over lands with a previous history and altered them in several countries around the globe. Some of the histories are unavailable or not universally accepted because people ensured that it was so. This does not reduce my sadness for the lives lost, injustice or family history washed away for all the people mentioned in the book, it just meant that I listened to this just as I had for so many older people and countries.

I thought the author covered a very unique perspective from her family’s side and that of an average citizen of Palestine in the present day. She showed us the privilege of her citizenship and the relative ease it granted her. It opened my eyes to a whole new world, but I also felt that it could have been a shorter narrative. Given that she used very fitting words to convey her meaning, she got the information across quite quickly. After a point, I felt my attention wander and that did not feel appropriate given the seriousness of the content. I would have appreciated the book even more if it had ended sooner than it did. I would still recommend this to people who are curious about the conflict or what it meant for the people on the ground.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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