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Where The Streets Had A Name (2008)

par Randa Abdel-Fattah

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Thirteen-year-old Hayaat of Bethlehem faces check points, curfews, and the travel permit system designed to keep people on the West Bank when she attempts to go to her grandmother's ancestral home in Jerusalem with her best friend.
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As she did in Does My Head Look Big in This? (2007) and Ten Things I Hate About Me (2009), Abdel-Fattah introduces a bright, articulate Muslim heroine coping with contemporary life, this time during the West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2004. After the Israelis confiscate and demolish their home, 13-year-old Hayaat and her Palestinian family endure curfews, checkpoints and concrete walls, exiled in a cramped apartment in Bethlehem. Hayaat’s father silently mourns his lost olive groves, while her grandmother longs for the Jerusalem home her family abandoned in 1948. With her face scarred by shattered glass, Hayaat wears her own reminder of the occupation. Determined to retrieve some Jerusalem soil for her ailing grandmother, Hayaat and her Christian pal, Samy, secretly embark on a short but harrowing mission into forbidden territory. Hayaat chronicles this life-altering journey in the first-person, present tense, giving readers an intimate glimpse into the life of her warm, eccentric Muslim family, who survive despite the volatile political environment. A refreshing and hopeful teen perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma. (glossary of Arabic words) (Fiction. 9-12)

-Kirkus Review
  CDJLibrary | Aug 1, 2023 |
A Palestinian girl and her friend living in Bethlehem devise a plan to prevail over curfews and other laws to travel to Jerusalem to get a remedy for the girl’s ailing grandmother.
  NCSS | Jul 23, 2021 |
I won this book from Firstreads. It was a good book that was able to show the conflicts (the curfews and checkpoints) in a human way. It also showed how even in bad circumstances it is important to dream and hope.
  sochri | Nov 21, 2017 |
The central plot of this story reminded me of From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler except, you know, with more armed soldiers and PTSD. It's that whole "kid goes on a wildly ambitious mission and by some miracle doesn't get turned back at every obstacle" genre.

There's a lot more to it than that here, though: both during, and after the adventure plot. Possibly it dragged a little towards the end as a result; for me the emotional climax was long before the end of the book. But reaching that powerful climax while on public transport required quite some exercise of willpower. ( )
  zeborah | Jun 5, 2013 |
Set in Palestine, it introduces us to the obstacles that Hayaat and her family cope with on a daily basis. The family olive grove has been confiscated to build a road, so the family, complete with grandmother, are now living in a small apartment. There is the normal family bickering and loving support; preparations for her sister’s wedding, and dealing with the hassles of curfews and travel restrictions. As the story unfolds, we see that Hayaat is not insensible or immune to the undercurrents in her world. She spends quality time with her grandmother, enjoying her family stories and learning of the creation of the state of Israel. There is gentle humor with religious differences between the Muslim Hayaat, and her best friend, the Catholic Samy.
Hayaat’s Grandmother becomes ill and Hayaat and Samy decide to get some soil from the restricted Jewish sector. The story also deals with Hayaat’s disfigurement; her face has been mutilated when she was shot, and her acceptance of the death of her best friend.
This book can’t help but break down barriers. There is no racism or fanaticism, just people getting on with life, albeit much tougher lives than we are generally used to. Good for a student who has some understanding of the Arab/Jewish conflict. Not fast moving, but a good story from the Palestinian perspective. ( )
  dalzan | Apr 24, 2013 |
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To my Grandmother Sitti Jamilah, who passed away on 24th April, 2008, aged 98. I had hoped that you would live to see this book and that you would be allowed to touch the soil of your homeland again. It is my consolation that you died surrounded by my father and family and friends who cherished you. May you rest in peace. And to my father-May you see a free Palestine in your lifetime.
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Thirteen-year-old Hayaat of Bethlehem faces check points, curfews, and the travel permit system designed to keep people on the West Bank when she attempts to go to her grandmother's ancestral home in Jerusalem with her best friend.

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