Hayaat is a 13 year old Palestinian girl marked by war, with scars on her body and her heart. Now she has to face her fears and haunted memories to take a perilous quest in her hope to save her dying grandma. Hayaat believes that a handful of dirt for her grandma’s home town in Israel will save her, but Hayaat is trapped in the West Bank, the contest land of Palestine and Israel and cannot cross the checkpoints to make it there. Hayaat and her trouble making best friend Samy try the impossible to cross a border and save a life.
This is a beautiful story of love, friendship, and family torn apart but not destroyed by conflict. Abdel-Fattah does an amazing job at looking at the Israel-Palestine conflict without demonizing either side, but without lying about the ugly reality of the conflict. Hayaat and Samy are very believable and likable characters that face horror without losing hope and their own sense of right and wrong. For such a difficult subject, the book actually has a lot of humor and light touches. It really shows how humans can survive and maintain an innate goodness in the worst of times. If you are at all interested in learning about one of the most important conflicts in our world today (and for the past 50 years), this is a great way to see world events on a human level.