Synopses & Reviews
In this semi-autobiographical first novel by poet Naomi Shihab Nye, fourteen-year-old Liyana moves from St. Louis to Jerusalem with her family. Liyana's father, a doctor, grew up in Jerusalem and he wants his Arab-American children to explore their roots. For Liyana, just coming into her own as a teenager, the move is a tragedy.
But slowly Liyana starts to feel at home -- both in her new country and in her own skin. She meets her relatives, including her 100-year-old Sitti who Lives in the West Bank, and her parents enroll her in an Armenian school where she begins to learn Arabic. And, she meets Omer, a totally cool Jewish boy who kisses her in the library and gives her an unexpected reason to like Jerusalem. When Liyana and her brother Rafik become friends with two Palestinian kids who live in a refuge camp near the Abboud's new home, Liyana and her family have a brush with violence that brings home the unpredictable nature of day-to-day life in the Middle East.
If one were to look for a theme in Naomi Shihab Nye's life and writing that theme would be the utmost importance of making connections. I have heard Naomi described as the "human extension cord". Naomi's first novel is about the connections between fathers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, the old world and the new, Arabs and Jews, heaven and earth, and people and peace.
Fourteen-year-old Liyana Abboud would rather not have to change her life...especially now that she has been kissed, for the very first time and quite by surprise, by a boy named Jackson.
But when her parents announce that Liyana's family is moving from St. Louis, Missouri, to Jerusalem -- to the land where her father was born -- Liyana's whole world shifts.
What does Jerusalem hold for Liyana? A grandmother, a Sitti, she has never met, for one. A history much bigger than she is. Visits to the West Bank village where her aunts and uncles live. Mischief. Old stone streets that wind through time and trouble. Opening doors, dark jail cells, a new feeling for peace, and Omer...the intriguing stranger whose kisses replace the one she lost when she moved across the ocean.