Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine

Ibtisam Barakat. FSG/Ferguson, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-374-30251-1

In this companion memoir to Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood (2007), Barakat continues her tale of growing up in Palestine from 1972–1981, a politically turbulent time. As a high school student, Barakat reminds herself that while she “cannot do anything about Iraq and Iran, the American hostages, Lebanon, the civil war and the Palestinian camps,” she can study for her exams. Themes of equal rights and education for girls become especially poignant as Barakat’s mother acknowledges that leaving school for marriage felt “worse than death” and decides to resume her high school studies. Divided into five parts correlating with the family’s five homes, the book captures Barakat’s growing understanding of the complex dynamics in her parents’ marriage, her outrage at gender-based restrictions, and her determination not to live a life like that of her mother. When her willingness to question and explore opens doors for her, Barakat receives encouragement and support from surprising sources, validating her sister’s statement that “being Palestinian teaches you to be ready for any destiny.” This is a compelling personal history, brimming with humor, wisdom, and empathy. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
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