Mornings in Jenin is a multi-generational story about a Palestinian family. Forcibly removed from the olive-farming village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejas are displaced to live in canvas tents in the Jenin refugee camp. We follow the Abulheja family as they live through a half century of dispossession. Amidst loss, fear, and pain, as their tents are replaced by more forebodingly permanent cinderblock huts, there is always the waiting to return to a lost home.
The novel’s voice is that of Amal, the granddaughter of the village patriarch, a bright, sensitive girl who makes it out of the camps, only to return years later, where she marries and bear a child. Through her eyes, with her evolving vision, we get the story of her brothers, one who is kidnapped to be raised Jewish, one who chooses armed resistance. But of the many interwoven stories, stretching backward and forward in time, none is more important than Amal’s own. Her story is one of love and loss, of childhood and marriage and parenthood, and finally the need to share her history with her daughter, to preserve the greatest love she has.
Set against one of the twentieth century’s most intractable geopolitical issues, Mornings in Jenin is a deeply human novel – a novel of history, identity, friendship, love, terrorism, surrender, courage, and hope. Its power forces us to take a fresh look at one of the defining political moments of our lifetimes.