You Review: The Lemon Tree

Guest review by Carol Gilbert

This is the first in a series of reviews by LMU staff, of books in the library’s collections.

Written by Sandy Tolan, a journalist and professor, The Lemon Tree first began as a true short story that aired as a public radio documentary.  Mr. Tolan brings an even-handed approach to this highly researched story of grief and humanity, keenly illustrating a microcosm of the challenges in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  The book provides a window into the life of a Bulgarian Jewish girl whose family immigrated to Israel in 1948. It is balanced by insight into the life of a Palestinian boy whose family, now displaced in Jordan, fled its ancestral home in the midst of war as the British withdrew from Palestine.  In fact, the book opens just after the end of the Six Day War at that home as the Palestinian, by then a young adult, cautiously ventures back to al-Ramla, renamed Lydda by the Israelis, to visit his childhood home which is in Israeli territory.  He is invited in by the young Jewish woman who lives there with her parents. Over the course of four decades they develop an unlikely friendship and through empathy broaden their understanding of the other’s perspective on deeply troubling issues, despite being profoundly impacted by political events. The paths they take will surprise you.

This compelling story is a must read for anyone interested in the Middle East, in conflict resolution or just plain drawn to true stories that depict two equally valid but contrasting views of reality.  It’s also a highly engaging story for those who recognize that much in life cannot be painted in black and white.

This book is in the library collection.

If it’s checked out, find a copy in LINK+!