Hot Best Seller

In My Mother's Footsteps: A Palestinian Refugee Returns Home

Availability: Ready to download

‘Refugees are like seeds that scatter in the wind, and land in different soils that become their reluctant homes’ my mother once told me. As a small child, I looked up at my mother and clutched her hand. The puffiness of her palm reminded me of a loaf of warm pita bread, and when she laced her fingers into mine like a pretzel, I felt safe. I would have walked with her to t ‘Refugees are like seeds that scatter in the wind, and land in different soils that become their reluctant homes’ my mother once told me. As a small child, I looked up at my mother and clutched her hand. The puffiness of her palm reminded me of a loaf of warm pita bread, and when she laced her fingers into mine like a pretzel, I felt safe. I would have walked with her to the ends of the earth. When Mona moved from California to Ramallah to teach conflict resolution in a school for a year, she kept a journal. Within its pages, she wrote her impressions of her homeland, a place she had only experienced through her mother’s memories. As she settled into her teaching role, getting to know her students and the challenges they faced living in a militarized, occupied town, Mona also embarked on a personal pilgrimage to find her mother’s home in Jerusalem. Mona had dreamed of being guided by her mother down the old souqs, and the leafy streets of her neighborhood, listening to the muezzin’s call for prayer and the medley of church bells. But after fifty-nine years of exile, it was Mona’s mother who held her daughter’s hand as they visited Jerusalem together, walking the narrow cobblestone alleys of the Old City. Their roles were reversed. Mona had become her Mama’s legs and her memory – and the one to tell her story going forward. In My Mother’s Footsteps is a moving and heart-rending journey of a daughter discovering her roots and recovering her mother’s beloved past. It’s also an intimate and tender account of daily life for Palestinians as never seen before. For fans of The Bookseller of Kabul and The Beekeeper of Aleppo.


Compare

‘Refugees are like seeds that scatter in the wind, and land in different soils that become their reluctant homes’ my mother once told me. As a small child, I looked up at my mother and clutched her hand. The puffiness of her palm reminded me of a loaf of warm pita bread, and when she laced her fingers into mine like a pretzel, I felt safe. I would have walked with her to t ‘Refugees are like seeds that scatter in the wind, and land in different soils that become their reluctant homes’ my mother once told me. As a small child, I looked up at my mother and clutched her hand. The puffiness of her palm reminded me of a loaf of warm pita bread, and when she laced her fingers into mine like a pretzel, I felt safe. I would have walked with her to the ends of the earth. When Mona moved from California to Ramallah to teach conflict resolution in a school for a year, she kept a journal. Within its pages, she wrote her impressions of her homeland, a place she had only experienced through her mother’s memories. As she settled into her teaching role, getting to know her students and the challenges they faced living in a militarized, occupied town, Mona also embarked on a personal pilgrimage to find her mother’s home in Jerusalem. Mona had dreamed of being guided by her mother down the old souqs, and the leafy streets of her neighborhood, listening to the muezzin’s call for prayer and the medley of church bells. But after fifty-nine years of exile, it was Mona’s mother who held her daughter’s hand as they visited Jerusalem together, walking the narrow cobblestone alleys of the Old City. Their roles were reversed. Mona had become her Mama’s legs and her memory – and the one to tell her story going forward. In My Mother’s Footsteps is a moving and heart-rending journey of a daughter discovering her roots and recovering her mother’s beloved past. It’s also an intimate and tender account of daily life for Palestinians as never seen before. For fans of The Bookseller of Kabul and The Beekeeper of Aleppo.

30 review for In My Mother's Footsteps: A Palestinian Refugee Returns Home

  1. 5 out of 5

    RoshReviews

    Mona Hajjar Halaby comes from a rich cultural heritage, having connections to Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Switzerland and the US by virtue of birth or residence. But the closest to her heart is her native land, the place not counted as a country, a land torn by strife to this day: Palestine. As the author herself says, “Identity is where your heart lies.” Halaby’s mother had to leave Palestine as a young girl during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. But her heart was left in her land of her origin and Mona Hajjar Halaby comes from a rich cultural heritage, having connections to Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Switzerland and the US by virtue of birth or residence. But the closest to her heart is her native land, the place not counted as a country, a land torn by strife to this day: Palestine. As the author herself says, “Identity is where your heart lies.” Halaby’s mother had to leave Palestine as a young girl during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. But her heart was left in her land of her origin and she brought up Halaby to love and respect her Palestinian compatriots. So when Halaby received an offer to teach conflict resolution in a school in Ramallah (near Jerusalem) for a year, she grabbed the opportunity eagerly. Halaby maintained a journal of her time in Ramallah, where she wrote her thoughts about her motherland, a land she had hitherto known only through her mother’s memories. This book contains four elements (though all are interspersed with each other and not written in a compartmentalised way.) 1. Halaby’s thoughts on the struggle of the Palestinian people and her experience of living in Palestine for a year. 2. The background and repercussions of the Arab-Israeli war, especially on children. As the author is a conflict resolution specialist, her interactions with the Palestinian school children make for introspective reading. 3. Letters written by Halaby’s mother to her, detailing the nostalgic memories from her own childhood in Palestine. 4. Details of a trip where Halaby took her 84 year old mother back to Palestine after 59 years abroad. This includes her struggles to locate her mother’s childhood home, especially as there were no street or locality names at that time. I loved this entire segment! Each of these elements is written beautifully. As in any memoir, Halaby’s personal thoughts dominate the narrative. But the content is so hard-hitting that you forgive and forget the regular appearance of her wonderings and musings. I loved the author’s decision to include her mother’s letters in the book. As she says, it makes for "a memoir in two voices", and I completely agree. The historical background that these letters provide greatly enhances the reading experience. I heard the audiobook narrated by Lameece Issaq, and I must say, I was very impressed at her reading. Though the book contained lines in many languages, she went through them effortlessly. The 9 hours long audiobook breezed by because of her voice. If you wish to have a clear idea of what’s happening in Palestine and how and why it all began, this would be a great book to begin with. After all, what can be more authentic than a voice of Palestine speaking from Palestine? Thank you, NetGalley and Bookouture Audio, for the audio ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. *********************** Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun. Follow me on Instagram: RoshReviews

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sahar

    “No checkpoint, and no wall, can come in the way of your relationship with God. It is personal; it is private; it is intimate. And Israel certainly cannot control it.” In My Mother’s Footsteps is a evocatively immersive memoir that captures, with remarkable precision, all the feelings, thoughts and emotions associated with the refugee experience and the long, tiresome journey back home. This a memoir from the perspective of a Palestinian Christian. The majority of literature I have read pertainin “No checkpoint, and no wall, can come in the way of your relationship with God. It is personal; it is private; it is intimate. And Israel certainly cannot control it.” In My Mother’s Footsteps is a evocatively immersive memoir that captures, with remarkable precision, all the feelings, thoughts and emotions associated with the refugee experience and the long, tiresome journey back home. This a memoir from the perspective of a Palestinian Christian. The majority of literature I have read pertaining to Palestine thus far has either been historical non-fiction, touching upon all three religions claims to the land, or fictional works from a Palestinian Muslim perspective. It was refreshing to read something from a non-Muslim perspective, though the authors experiences as a Christian were not dissimilar in the slightest to the Muslim experience, in fact some of her family were/are Muslim and she warmly describes her blended family in intimate detail. From Alexandria to Geneva and eventually California, Mona Hajjar Halaby, like many refugees, has settled in various places across the globe, though failing to call any one place home. One can talk at length about truly constitutes ‘home’ - is it your land of birth? Your country of origin? Where you grew up? Is it possible to have more than one home? This powerful yet tender memoir explores how, for most Palestinian refugees, home has mutated into an unreachable, alien entity that confers nothing but heartache and longing when reminded of. Familiar yet foreign, the homeland once so prosperous, dynamic and inclusive, has become a source of anguish for the exiled. “I wasn’t born there; I never lived there, but I was from there.” Flitting between her mothers letters and recounting her year-long role teaching conflict resolution at Ramallah Friends School (RFS), In My Mother’s Footsteps takes the reader on an enchanting—yet frustrating—expedition to the very heart of Palestine: both the Palestine pre-1948, as recounted by Halaby’s mother, Zakia Jabre, in her letters, and the Palestine as it was in 2007, during Mona’s teaching year at RFS. “[My mother] wrote me letters during my year in Ramallah: letters that told her story, her love of Jerusalem, and her loss of Jerusalem.” Succinctly presenting key historical events to provide context for the condition of Palestine today, as well as expounding on her own family history and the richness of her ancestral line, Habaly has made this a memoir that not only takes the reader on an intimate and emotional journey, but also educates them. This is therefore a suitable read for those unfamiliar with the situation in Palestine, for those wanting a better understanding of the situation without delving into more detailed and informative works such as The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe or The Hundred Years War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi. Halaby’s evocative descriptions of her homeland leave the reader yearning to visit… to stroll the streets of Jerusalem for themselves, to taste the freshly baked ka’ak, feel the chill of the Ramallah winter… During her year at RFS, attempting to engage students in non-violent conflict resolution whilst living in one of the most militarised and occupied places on earth, transpired to be a challenging task. Halaby expounds on both her techniques to promote verbal and written conflict resolution, as well as detailing the delicacy and complexity of this aspirational task. She was acutely cognisant of her own limitations as a westerner/outsider (despite her Palestinian heritage) whilst striving to deconstruct the deep rooted, trauma-associated behavioural responses of her students. Struggling socially and emotionally, many of her students, contrary to popular belief, hadn’t matured to the extent of their western counterparts due to their trauma. “Maybe when they couldn’t count on a responsive, predictable world, they became too afraid to grow up. I would have anticipated the opposite. I always assumed that children experiencing trauma and military violence grow up too fast.” I found Halaby’s interactions with Israelis fascinating but unsurprising. Her inner turmoil and conflict were present in almost every interaction; from being kindly permitted entry into her mothers childhood home in Baq’a by the Israeli settlers who now resided there, to staying at a Kibbutz, to giving a tour of the area to Israeli settlers and explaining her families long standing ties to the land, I sympathised with her conflicted need to be courteous but firm and detached. “I was the one who travelled to Palestine to teach children how to communicate their grievances in an open, direct, and non-violent manner, and here I was, shamefully unable to speak my truth to an Israeli.” In all, this was a beautiful, bittersweet memoir and made me experience a multitude of emotions; I cried at the injustices burdened upon the Palestinian people, I smiled at the success of her conflict resolution programme and reformed students, and I wept for those, like her mother, unable to return to their homes from exile. “I had to forget a little bit to live away from Palestine, because otherwise the intensity of my feelings of longing wold rip me to shreds.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trisha (semi-hiatus)

    Blog Review: https://trishadoeseverythingbutstudy2... I received a free e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This is 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5. This book was a truly heartbreaking read. I honestly don't know where to start, I've been trying to write this review for hours now, but have made zero progress. It's because I don't know how to even begin unpacking the whole lot of emotions that has made me feel. Anger, grief, sadness, despair, happiness, elation, pride; I could go on. Al Blog Review: https://trishadoeseverythingbutstudy2... I received a free e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This is 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5. This book was a truly heartbreaking read. I honestly don't know where to start, I've been trying to write this review for hours now, but have made zero progress. It's because I don't know how to even begin unpacking the whole lot of emotions that has made me feel. Anger, grief, sadness, despair, happiness, elation, pride; I could go on. All of this, and so much more. I felt anger for the way so many people who had lost their homes and families, for the children who were still dealing with something that had happened when they were 5, something that will probably never leave them. For the way people who followed a different religion and spoke a different language were discriminated against in a way that reminded me horrifically of descriptions of Nazi Germany. I felt grief for the many who lost their lives, for the author's family herself. Grief for so much that could have been, so much lost....not only lives, but livelihoods, homes, friends; their land. Grief for the way so many children now live in fear, people live in fear, people who take out their fear and anger on their innocent brethren around them. I felt sadness for each and every person out there who lives in a place that does not want them, reduced to being refugees in foreign lands, to running away because staying would be worse. Sadness that the world has come to this kind of thinking yourself superior, and pulling others down to prove it mentality, again. I felt despair, that so many of these people who left their homes, might never be able to see them again. So many people who left thinking that this hate might die down, that it would only be temporary, people leaving, taking only enough for a vacation, just clothes for that season, losing everything they own, all the homes and reminders of home, all the things they called their own, taken over by people justifying it to themselves that it was legal. I felt happiness that despite all the horrors these people faced, they still find it in themselves to be happy, giving, people. Helpful people who still have not lost hope. People who find happiness in the little things, in helping a fellow human when they're sick and cooking them food. Little moments of happiness, shining through all that is wrong with the world. I felt pride, pride that they are still fighting, still standing, proving that nothing will bring them down. Pride that these children are finding their way to be compassionate, that all the volunteers, the Israeli people fighting against the Occupation, all of them are working towards a peaceful cohabitation, all of them working towards peace, peace after so many years of fighting. Despite the positive feelings I felt at the end, overall, throughout this book I would feel an overwhelming sense of not-rightness. Of the feeling that this is not okay. And that ties into my next point, because as a person who primarily reads fiction, and reads it for a reason, this book? This book was scary on a whole other level. Because, in fiction? At the end of the day, you know it's not real. You know it's just a figment of someone's imagination. That it never happened, and never will. That despite all the horrors your characters faced, they came out on top, and even if they didn't it was never real. But here, here it is real. It is real, and it's happening right now. It;s been happening for years, and it will keep happening if no peace is reached. Generations of children will live in fear, growing up to be adults that live in fear, that express this fear in unhealthy ways using violence, and the vicious cycle will continue. Because the Israeli people? They're also people. People like you and me, like the Palestinians. People who can feel fear. And if they're taught that Palestinians are to be feared, because they're different and not like them, then they will express their fear in such violent ways, as they've been doing, and as they will keep doing, just like the Palestinians. Because this is a vicious cycle, at least it looks like it from where I'm sitting. One side does something, the other retaliates, fear grows, violence escalates, shaky peace emerges, but no one forgets the fear, and so they retaliate, and so the cycle continues. Now that we're done with the thoughts on the content, let's talk a bit about the writing. I loved the writing style, I was painting pictures in my head so vividly with its help. I loved the descriptions of the places and the food, the people and the whole atmosphere, really, it was so easy to get immersed into it. I especially loved the author's mother's letters, and they were sprinkled throughout this book in a very nice way, giving short breaks from the author's voice, while not breaking away from the overall message and content. One other thing I just had to say, after finishing, I finally realised the significance of the the tree on the cover. And it makes me so happy, to see home on the cover, in a way. The reason I'm rating this 4.5 stars instead of five isn't really a thorough reason, which is why I only cut a 0.5 star. It is in relation to the dialogues in places...sometimes the dialogues would seem very clunky, and I would have to read them twice or thrice to understand what was being siad. I do think, though, that the reason for this was that it was most likely translated from another language, and thus the grammar for english was off. There's nothing really wrong with it, I would just find it a bit weird. On the whole, an amazing and enlightening read, an done everyone should give a try, really, even if you just want to visit Israel and Palestine from a Palestinian's perspective, or if you want to know about the realities of this world, and the consequences of of such ethnic wars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Meri

    Thank you netgalley and threadbooks for giving me this ARC in return for an honest review. I stumbled upon this ARC at netgalley at a time when I was looking for books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mona, who has Palestinian roots and lives in the US, was invited to teach conflict resolution at a school in Ramallah, which is part of the Israeli Occupied Territories. Mona writes about the problems and violence the students face living in an occupied town and how the conflict has shaped them. D Thank you netgalley and threadbooks for giving me this ARC in return for an honest review. I stumbled upon this ARC at netgalley at a time when I was looking for books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mona, who has Palestinian roots and lives in the US, was invited to teach conflict resolution at a school in Ramallah, which is part of the Israeli Occupied Territories. Mona writes about the problems and violence the students face living in an occupied town and how the conflict has shaped them. During weekends and breaks Mona follows in her mother’s footsteps. Zakia, a Palestinian Catholic, was forced to flee to Egypt during the Arab-Israeli war. Mona is able to locate her mother’s childhood home. In one of the most touching and heartbreaking parts of the book Zakia joins her and Mona discovers her homeland which she only knew through her mother’s stories. The descriptions are very vivid, making it easy to get immersed into Mona’s journey. The book is very thoughtful and combines the narration of a family history with insights on how the conflict affects various generations, those who had to flee and those who stayed behind, the past and the present. One of the best books of 2021 and one that will stay on my mind for a long time. I would recommend the book to anyone and have already pre-ordered the hard copy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    smalltownbookmom

    An incredibly moving memoir that does a great job putting a human face on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Mona's mother was a Christian Palestinian from Jerusalem forced to flee in 1948 and ended up living and raising her family in Sweden. When Mona gets an opportunity to return to the country of her mother's birth for a work opportunity, she takes advantage and invites her mother along. Together the two women get to know the country of their roots and bring to light the conditions of everyday An incredibly moving memoir that does a great job putting a human face on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Mona's mother was a Christian Palestinian from Jerusalem forced to flee in 1948 and ended up living and raising her family in Sweden. When Mona gets an opportunity to return to the country of her mother's birth for a work opportunity, she takes advantage and invites her mother along. Together the two women get to know the country of their roots and bring to light the conditions of everyday Palestinians living under military occupation. Highly recommended for fans of The beekeeper of Aleppo and The bookseller of Kabul. Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my advance listening copy in exchange for my honest review. I really enjoyed listening to Mona speak her story in a highly relatable way!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    Mona Hajjar Halaby's memoir In My Mother's Footsteps was this week's engrossment for me, reading-wise. I am so glad I had the opportunity to read this book! I knew it was about the middle east, but wasn't clear until I started in, that it was about Palestine, a topic of which I know very little beyond the bible study classes of the Christian world. The living breathing people / country / culture that are growing up right next to Israel, trying to keep hold of their part of that ages old argument Mona Hajjar Halaby's memoir In My Mother's Footsteps was this week's engrossment for me, reading-wise. I am so glad I had the opportunity to read this book! I knew it was about the middle east, but wasn't clear until I started in, that it was about Palestine, a topic of which I know very little beyond the bible study classes of the Christian world. The living breathing people / country / culture that are growing up right next to Israel, trying to keep hold of their part of that ages old argument of who gets what has never been something I considered much. Now I can't stop thinking about them. Oddly enough, these last few years I've been reading a lot about displaced peoples - the native peoples of the Americas, the Irish in their own land, all of the people the Vikings imposed on, the conquered people who suffered for a time during WWII (and every war ever!) and this memoir fits right in that category. What about the Palestinians? Why does one neighborhood go to displaced people another country (Britain) assigns them, rather than the very people who live there and have lived there for hundreds - thousands - of years? By telling us the tender story of her mother, ". . . born a Christian Palestinian in Jerusalem and grew up in British-governed Palestine until the war of 1948, when she was driven out of her home. . .", one of those actually displaced, a reader travels through the time and many local places of the Nakba. So many people forced to flee, and laws quickly passed to ensure they could never come back and reclaim so much as a bitter orange tree. I've always been inspired by the story of Israel being established, a final home for a displaced people. "Palestine" and its people occupied a shadowy place in my mind as a people who didn't want Jews there, and so were cranky and non-cooperative. That's the full extent of my knowledge (miniscule) and ignorance (vast) when it comes to Palestine and its people. This book opens a door to yet another displaced people who are doing their best to reconcile the past actions of others and still find a way to achieve the same kind of security and homeland as their neighbors. On one of her tours throughout the country she observed: At the head of the trail was a big map of the park with its trails and beaches. A short narrative in English, Hebrew and Arabic followed. The last paragraph caught my attention: "Certain plants that grow in the park, such as the dark-purple iris (Iris atropurpurea), are endemic to this area. Wildlife in the park includes fox, badger, porcupine, bee-eater, and songbirds." Palestinians were also once endemic to the region, but unlike the dark-purple iris, the fox, the badger, the porcupine, the bee-eater, and songbirds, they were not protected but uprooted and discarded. Other takes-away for me from this book were Ms. Halaby's teachings for children related to conflict resolution, non-violent communication and problem solving within a classroom setting and how some of those could be applied on a larger scale. She was hired to go to Palestine and teach her specialty for a year, and she shared the experiences with children who had been raised by parents who were children during the 1948 traumatizing troubles - all of which rolled forward to their children as they parented. As I read, it was clear that children on all sides of the millenniums-long, ongoing argument benefited from her year there. Obviously a wise and helpful teacher, I find her a talented and skillful writer. I highly recommend this book. A Sincere Thanks to Mona Hajjar Halaby, Threadbooks and NetGalley for an ARC to read and review. #InMyMothersFootsteps #NetGalley

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Jane

    See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits In My Mother's Footsteps is a poignant memoir of loss and survival, of a people systematically ousted from their homes and of how those people's children and grandchildren are still traumatised by the way in which they were - and still are - treated in their occupied homeland. This book gave me an authentic first-person insight into the oppression I read about fictionally in Occupied by Joss Sheldon and My Name Is Adam by Elias Khoury. Throug See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits In My Mother's Footsteps is a poignant memoir of loss and survival, of a people systematically ousted from their homes and of how those people's children and grandchildren are still traumatised by the way in which they were - and still are - treated in their occupied homeland. This book gave me an authentic first-person insight into the oppression I read about fictionally in Occupied by Joss Sheldon and My Name Is Adam by Elias Khoury. Through her own memories, family anecdotes and letters from her mother, Mona Hajjar Halaby emotionally describes how the 1948 Nakba, the violent Israeli cleansing of Palestinians from their homes, directly resulted in her family's sixty year exile. It was particularly saddening for me to understand how the open, tolerant and multicultural Palestine of the 1940s and earlier has been warped into impoverished, isolated communities that still remain and to understand how much ancient Arabic history and culture was both destroyed and denied by the people who now live on that land and, in many cases, in the very same houses from which Palestinians were ousted. I felt Halaby related particularly well her internal anguish at being overlooked and unseen within her own homeland. I was frequently surprised at her polite restraint when faced with people who blithely believed official propaganda about how Palestine had been prior to its being split in 1948 (it certainly wasn't a wasteland!), and with the daily grind of obstructive bureaucracy and ridiculous rules for Palestinians today. Her rage is palpable, but this book is a balanced account, not a tirade. I was wearily ashamed to spot too that historic high-handed British interference was the root of the present day impasse. Is there anywhere in the world we didn't march into and wreck? I appreciated the varied aspects of Halaby's Palestine experience that she chose to share with readers. In My Mother's Footsteps comprises an intensely personal family history, but we are also given an insider's view of the year she spent working within a Palestinian school. Halaby's specialisation in conflict resolution would seem to have been tailor-made for this opportunity, but her realisation of just how negatively affected the children are by the extreme violence they have witnessed made for uncomfortable reading. I think there is dawning awareness globally of the plight of Palestinian people and a sense that the international community needs to step up. The events of the Nakba should be widely known and understood beyond the Palestinian diaspora and I think In My Mother's Footsteps is a valuable resource for spreading the word. I was both impressed and moved by Halaby's memoir.

  8. 5 out of 5

    SujaKest

    I have always been intrigued, confused, upset and sad about the clashes and aftermath of all the disturbances that happen between Israel and Palestine. It hits you hard when you see kids dying in the shelling, people losing homes and near and dear ones. One of the clashes that happened in the recent times killed a mom and her 4 kids when they were visiting their relatives. The youngest child was pulled from the rubble and was handed over to his dad. It was so clear from the dad's interview that I have always been intrigued, confused, upset and sad about the clashes and aftermath of all the disturbances that happen between Israel and Palestine. It hits you hard when you see kids dying in the shelling, people losing homes and near and dear ones. One of the clashes that happened in the recent times killed a mom and her 4 kids when they were visiting their relatives. The youngest child was pulled from the rubble and was handed over to his dad. It was so clear from the dad's interview that the reunion was bitter sweet. Would he mourn his dead wife and 4 kids or be happy about getting back one kid. I was extremely sad and said a silent prayer for the family 😔. I sincerely hope that both sides come to an agreement soon and the living conditions will improve for everybody in the area. This book was wonderfully reviewed by my friend Roshni and her recommendation came at the right time. I was yearning to know more about the history of the war and what started this "mess" and this book seemed to be like a right starting point. The Author Mona Hajjar Halaby as rightly says “Identity is where your heart lies” can be felt throughout the book. Inspite of the rich experience of life she has had being in many different countries you will feel the love that she has for her “motherland”. She has been pretty good at providing the dates and times of Nakba and also puts in a good historical background. This helps a newbie like me to understand the background better. The whole book is her life experience when she was given a great opportunity to train the teachers at the RFS school in Ramallah. She goes on documenting tidbits and observations about her life, her roots, her anger, fear everything from 2006 to 2008 when she was working as conflict resolution teacher at the school. One of the best part of the book is her mother’s letters. It really added a great charm and importance to the subject. Few places in the book I felt the authors opinion or observation was little far fetched but hey, I am not going to judge her for that. It just showed her undying love for her identity. All in all, I would say it’s a very good book ! I loved it. The organization of the content is very good too. I am extremely thankful to Netgalley for providing me a ARC for this book

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lilisa

    The conflict between Israel and Palestine continues…will it ever be resolved? The heavy toll on lives, memories, history, and ties to an occupied homeland goes on. This memoir is the story of Author Mona Hajjar Halaby and her mother’s lives interwoven between two timelines, but executed seamlessly that I as the listener/reader didn’t feel the separation by years. Rather, it felt natural and flowed beautifully. Mona’s mother and family lost their home in Jerusalem when Palestinians were driven fr The conflict between Israel and Palestine continues…will it ever be resolved? The heavy toll on lives, memories, history, and ties to an occupied homeland goes on. This memoir is the story of Author Mona Hajjar Halaby and her mother’s lives interwoven between two timelines, but executed seamlessly that I as the listener/reader didn’t feel the separation by years. Rather, it felt natural and flowed beautifully. Mona’s mother and family lost their home in Jerusalem when Palestinians were driven from their homes in 1948. The memoir traces her mother’s family exodus to Egypt, where the author was born, only to be uprooted again because of political changes, and resettling in Switzerland. It also focuses on the author’s life growing up outside of Palestine but very much rooted in her homeland and culture, and how living in both worlds shaped her perspective, relationships, and life. Having visited Jerusalem a few times and then living and teaching in Ramallah for a year, the author’s insights and firsthand experience of what it’s like living in a land that by rights is her homeland, but is denied rights to, is devastating and poignant. Beyond the personal story, the author deftly portrays the awkward choreography of the two points of view - between those who occupy the land and those who were driven out - and the impacts the decades-long conflict have on successive generations, especially children, since 1948. This memoir was superbly written and engaging - the descriptions of the house and the orange tree captured so well the nostalgia and childhood memories of her mother. Personal and upfront, this book is a touching tribute to the author’s mother, homeland, and family. What comes through is the close, supportive, and warm ties of this family and the indelible impact their homeland continues to have on them despite not being able to claim it as their own. I very much enjoyed this audiobook and would highly recommended it. Many thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to and review this audiobook.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Thelma

    what a story I still can't believe many of the things that happened to Mona's mother. this is the true story of many of the refugees, many of the wars or political things left them. one of the things that Mona describes was how terrible is going back to your country only to find out you are not welcome, that the political situation still thriving for the benefit of a few, the Palestinians were robbed from their land little by little until they dint have anymore a place to live now they are fight what a story I still can't believe many of the things that happened to Mona's mother. this is the true story of many of the refugees, many of the wars or political things left them. one of the things that Mona describes was how terrible is going back to your country only to find out you are not welcome, that the political situation still thriving for the benefit of a few, the Palestinians were robbed from their land little by little until they dint have anymore a place to live now they are fighting to recover was stolen from them. The brutality of the police, the constant harassment of the government, and the checkpoints it made impossible to enjoy or to even feel like you're home. I felt terrible by many of the things they did to stole Palestinians from their land, this was a very deep and profound book,. What I love about the book is the real vision we have now about Jersusalem, about the Palestinians, their story, and the way Mona tells us her pilgrimage to find her mother’s home. it was great to see all the places but at the same time sad to know how terrible they were treated in their own land. The narrations by Lameece Issaq were amazing I really enjoy the way she brought this book to life and the characters too Thank you Mona for writing your story, your mom's story, and your ancestry story, this shed so much light

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    Listening to an extract of this audiobook I knew immediately that I wanted to listen to this story…to understand. Mona’s Mother was forced out of her home in Palestine in 1948. She took one small suitcase. Her family fled first to Egypt then to Geneva. As a child Mona listens to her Mother’s stories of her childhood in Palestine. In 2007 Mona took a one year teaching job in Ramallah to teach non violent communication in a school. She kept a journal of her experiences in a militarised occupied tow Listening to an extract of this audiobook I knew immediately that I wanted to listen to this story…to understand. Mona’s Mother was forced out of her home in Palestine in 1948. She took one small suitcase. Her family fled first to Egypt then to Geneva. As a child Mona listens to her Mother’s stories of her childhood in Palestine. In 2007 Mona took a one year teaching job in Ramallah to teach non violent communication in a school. She kept a journal of her experiences in a militarised occupied town. This book brings together both stories. I don’t know how to do justice to this amazing book. It is everything - a personal and familial history, something of a travelogue as Mona describes people, objects, buildings, experiences in incredible detail as she travels around the places of her Mother’s childhood; a personal witness to events in history. And it is an account of what it is like to live in these occupied areas. We have all seen the terrible news headlines recently, but reading this promoted a deeper level of understanding as through Mona’s eyes we witness the hardships and difficulties of occupation- soldiers climbing on the school bus, restrictions, paperwork, checkpoints, concrete walls, illegal settlements. It is a shock to her, it was a shock to me. So many moments overwhelm you with sadness and frustration…But there are also some beautiful scenes of friendship, family, meals, wisdom, love. I loved the descriptions of incredible salads, herbs, plants…shared meals, shared friendships and the stories. I listened to this on audiobook and it really added to the experience, with the narrator translating Arabic words to illuminate particular descriptions and conversations. The love between Mona and her Mum suffuses this story. When Mona’s Mother visits her, I held my breath. 59 years away from her homeland..how would she feel, what could it possibly be like? And as Mona and her Mum stand in the garden of her old home I wept. Mona writes of her book, ‘I hope it will resonate with you, warm your heart, and enlighten you about every day life in Palestine’ This book did all those things and more. With thanks to Netgalley, Bookoutre Audio and Thread Books for a digital copy of this very special audiobook.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This is a beautifully written, emotional and enlightening true story. I loved reading about Mona’s year in Palestine, teaching conflict resolution in a school, and following her mother’s footsteps hoping to find the home she had to flee. Her mother’s letters telling her story showed her resilience as well as sadness. I really felt for the families forced to flee Palestine, leaving their homes behind. The author expressed their grief and sorrow so eloquently. The phrase ‘Refugees are like seeds t This is a beautifully written, emotional and enlightening true story. I loved reading about Mona’s year in Palestine, teaching conflict resolution in a school, and following her mother’s footsteps hoping to find the home she had to flee. Her mother’s letters telling her story showed her resilience as well as sadness. I really felt for the families forced to flee Palestine, leaving their homes behind. The author expressed their grief and sorrow so eloquently. The phrase ‘Refugees are like seeds that scatter in the wind, and land in different soils that become their reluctant homes’ is so poignant and expressive. A must read, if, like me, you want to understand the Israeli/Gazza conflict a little more.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rez

    Through this moving, evocative and poignant memoir, we join Mona as she follows in her mother’s footsteps back to Palestine from where she was forced to leave due to the Arab-Israeli war in 1948. Mona was born in Egypt in the 1950s where she too became a refugee due to the nationalisation of Egypt. Mona’s mother was a devout Palestinian Catholic and it was her stories of childhood and youth which embedded in Mona a deep rooted love of Palestinian heritage and belonging. She made several trips th Through this moving, evocative and poignant memoir, we join Mona as she follows in her mother’s footsteps back to Palestine from where she was forced to leave due to the Arab-Israeli war in 1948. Mona was born in Egypt in the 1950s where she too became a refugee due to the nationalisation of Egypt. Mona’s mother was a devout Palestinian Catholic and it was her stories of childhood and youth which embedded in Mona a deep rooted love of Palestinian heritage and belonging. She made several trips there to uncover her family history and to find her mother’s home. She was invited to teach conflict resolution and non violent communication at the Ramallah Friends School in the Israeli Occupied Territories for a year. Whilst there she witnessed firsthand the effects of Israeli Occupation on school age children and gives a small insight into some of the methods she used to help the school. It did make me wonder however, about the thousands of children who wouldn’t have access to these schools and what they must be going through. Mona experienced a small piece of Palestinian life and culture and saw the difficulties the Palestinians face living under occupation which her Californian passport gave her immunity to. She was in her 50s by the time she could walk the streets of Palestine with her mother, who was only able to return due to her Swiss passport. Letters from her mother make this a memoir of two voices intermingled between the pages giving an insight into what life was like for some Palestinians during the time of British Mandate and the Naqba. She briefly mentions Palestinian history from the Ottoman era and of a time when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived side by side in harmony as well as mentioning the 1967 Six-day war and its consequences. The vivid descriptions of Palestinian landscapes, foods and photos which Mona interspersed throughout the book transported me to what once was. The inspirational resilience of the Palestinians shines through. Mona acknowledges her families experience as refugees are different as they had financial means and connections to escape from facing the horrors of the refugee camps and were later able to rebuild their lives. Thank you @netgalley and @threadbooks for giving me this ARC in return for an honest review. This was a really insightful and touching book as well as an intimate narration of family history and deep rooted love of Palestine and I learnt a lot from it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I think that most people who follow the news must be very aware of the difficult conditions that the Palestinian people live under. It's not easy to know where to start reading about such a complex and emotive issue, but if you are looking for a way to gain some insight into the current situation in Palestine then this memoir, In My Mother's Footsteps, might be a very good place for you to begin. In this book, Mona Hajjar-Halaby, American citizen and daughter of Palestinian refugees, follows two I think that most people who follow the news must be very aware of the difficult conditions that the Palestinian people live under. It's not easy to know where to start reading about such a complex and emotive issue, but if you are looking for a way to gain some insight into the current situation in Palestine then this memoir, In My Mother's Footsteps, might be a very good place for you to begin. In this book, Mona Hajjar-Halaby, American citizen and daughter of Palestinian refugees, follows two main themes: the first is through her own experiences of working as a teacher in Ramallah and Jerusalem, which shows us much about how Palestinians live under Israeli occupation; and the second is to explore the recollections and stories of her own mother about her life in Palestine before she was forced to flee her homeland during the war of 1948 - and there is plenty of heartbreak to be derived from both sides of the story. Even though I already had a good idea of what to expect from this book, I still found myself shocked about the reality of life for the Palestinian people. I defy you not to be horrified about the injustice that they experience every day of their lives, and yet there is something so wonderfully compelling about their resilience, their quiet stoicism, their hospitality and their enduring love for their homeland, despite the attempts to subvert their history. In these pages, Mona writes so eloquently about these people and her connection with them, that you cannot fail to be profoundly moved by her words. For me, it is the parts of the story where she is quite literally walking in the footsteps of her mother that are the most touching, and also the most viscerally powerful. Here, as she visits the significant places from her mother's Palestinian past, we cannot fail to be aware of the true face of war, the plight of refugees, how propaganda can skew reality, and how a fiction can be spun to represent 'alternative facts'. It is in these moments, through the magic of her mother's stories, that Mona really comes to understand her own identity and accept that she is truly Palestinian above all other things - despite what it says in her passport. This part of the story culminates in Mona's mother returning to Jerusalem for an incredibly poignant visit with her daughter, and her mother's bittersweet joy as she visits the places from her past brought tears to my eyes. There is a lot to take in within this memoir in terms of emotion and historical fact, and I found the best way to appreciate the power of the story was by a combination of written word (via the ebook) and listening to the audio version, narrated with feeling by Lameece Issaq, which allowed me to go over some of the parts again while fully immersing myself in both Mona and her mother's words - and the introduction of the audio book narrated by Mona herself really gets you closer to everything that follows. I find myself with a lot to reflect on after reading this book. I am grateful to Mona for acknowledging that she and her family come from a position of privilege which many refugees do not enjoy, but I am still struck by the awareness that even though this allowed them freedoms not available to many displaced people their heartbreak remains just as valid. In a book that is so much about the past, it is easy to think that this is a book about playing the blame game, and in many ways this is true, but Mona's side of the story is very much about the present which balances out the book well and begs the question about what comes next for Palestine. From having heard Mona speak about this memoir, I am aware that she does not consider herself an activist or expert in foreign affairs and as such is unqualified to speculate on how peace can be achieved in Palestine, but I would have liked to have seen a conclusion to the book in which she expresses her personal view on what the future might hold for her spiritual homeland - and perhaps, an acknowledgement that much of the lack of political will to find any real solution has been fostered by her own adopted country. Instead, I was left wondering about how Mona sees the situation playing out, and quite what we can do as bystanders to support the Palestinian people in a meaningful way. However, I will add that if you are interested in these answers to these questions too, then it is worth checking out her fascinating interview with Thread Books to mark the publication of this book, which you can find on their Instagram page @threadbooks. It is really worthwhile listening to what she has to say, and I think you will find her outlook very positive - I know I did. This is definitely one of those timely books that really should be widely read, and it shines with the love of family and the power of stories passed down generation to generation - these are the things that stand the test of time, enduring through adversity, and it is in these words that Mona has found her own identity and sense of belonging.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marti Leimbach

    AUDIOBOOK Beautifully narrated by Lameece Issaq, Mona Hajjar Halaby’s memoir, IN MY MOTHER’S FOOTSTEPS, offers a heartfelt account of Halaby’s feelings about her mother’s homeland, Palestine, a place her mother left during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, not by choice. It offers a compassionate perspective of displacement, not only of Halaby's mother but also other Palestinians. This thoughtful rendering shows the struggle of the Palestinian people, the impact of present, and unbearable, living con AUDIOBOOK Beautifully narrated by Lameece Issaq, Mona Hajjar Halaby’s memoir, IN MY MOTHER’S FOOTSTEPS, offers a heartfelt account of Halaby’s feelings about her mother’s homeland, Palestine, a place her mother left during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, not by choice. It offers a compassionate perspective of displacement, not only of Halaby's mother but also other Palestinians. This thoughtful rendering shows the struggle of the Palestinian people, the impact of present, and unbearable, living conditions on those still in the region, and a sad history of some of the most damaging policies both historically and presently. For those of us who wish to hear different accounts of the history of the region and the impact of its conflicts on Palestinians since the 1948 war, the memoir proves a rare gem. Halaby’s academic and professional background as a teacher of non-violent conflict resolution, and her rendering of her family’s history, including its displacement, make her uniquely situated to offer insights into the continuing struggle of the Palestinian people. Her storytelling is full of delicious details of the beauty and richness of the place, as well as the warmth and love of the people she meets during her year in Ramallah, where she has taken a temporary teaching post. The history of the area is not given in the book and Halaby’s perspective is a singular one, not intended to be a complete history, so it’s worth reading around the subject. My own understanding is that long before 1948, two groups of people claimed the same land. Toward the twentieth century, the Palestinians were developing a sense of cultural identity and nationality that they felt should include a nation state. Meanwhile, Jews from within the same area as well as from all over the world, were understanding Judaism as not only a religion but a nationality that required a nation-state, too. Halaby states that Muslims, as well as Christians, lived peacefully alongside each other in the region in the early twentieth century. Her mother describes playing on sports teams full of children of different religions. However, the British Mandate was the undoing of the area, and the memoir touches upon this. My own understanding is that the British began limiting the numbers of Jews moving to the area and that the Jews fought both British rule as well as Arabs for their rights to live in the land, especially as persecution elsewhere in the world put pressure on Jewish people. From what I understand, it was the dividing of Palestine into two states after WWII that is at the heart of the conflict. At that time, Jews agreed to the division as set down by the British, but Arabs did not, which led to the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. The Israelis won the war but pushed past the boundaries set out by the British, and displaced Palestinian people from their homes, creating a huge refugee population that included Halaby’s family of origin. She writes about this displacement, its memory in her heart and in her mother’s accounts of her history. After the failed uprising against the Jews, Israel acquired far more land both from what had been agreed in 1948, and also land that had belonged to Egypt and Syria. The 1978 agreement returned the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt, but Israel didn’t return the land that had been offered to the Palestinians in 1948. None of this is in the book, nor is the memoir obligated to include it, but I put it here for a little background. What also isn’t discussed, is that the Palestinian Liberation Organization claimed all the land belonged to Palestine and wanted to end the state of Israel. Bombings and attacks have come from both sides, but understandably you (understandably) get a more Palestinian point of view in this memoir. Halaby describes the problems resulting Israelis settling ever more on the territories that had been understood as belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. These settlers were (and are) understood by some as entirely illegal, but the Israeli government doesn’t see it that way. The conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians showed some hope of resolving with the Oslo Accords of 1993, which gave Palestinians some freedom to govern themselves, but the increasing violence from far-right military extremists like Hamas, and the resulting extremists on the Israeli side, meant that each group seems to be seeking the destruction of the other. The result is that the daily lives of Palestinian people are increasingly difficult, and this is what Halaby talks about so well, and the sense of loss is fully felt, especially during the section of the work that describes her mother’s return to Jerusalem. Sadly, her mother’s description of the peace between groups when she was a child seems impossible now.

  16. 5 out of 5

    J M McQueen

    Synopsis: In My Mother’s Footsteps is a memoir depicting Mona Hajjar Halaby’s journey to discover a family history that was heartbreakingly affected when her ancestors were forced from their homes in Jerusalem during the Israeli occupation in 1948. Mona’s memoir depicts the stories from her family history, her teaching in Ramallah and the political environment that not only forced her family from their home but made her temporary teaching experience challenging and contemplative. The Writing: I enj Synopsis: In My Mother’s Footsteps is a memoir depicting Mona Hajjar Halaby’s journey to discover a family history that was heartbreakingly affected when her ancestors were forced from their homes in Jerusalem during the Israeli occupation in 1948. Mona’s memoir depicts the stories from her family history, her teaching in Ramallah and the political environment that not only forced her family from their home but made her temporary teaching experience challenging and contemplative. The Writing: I enjoyed the writing in this book. It was speculative and creative as much as it was historical and political. The writing was complimentary to the topics within the book as well as the emotional aspects of Mona’s story. There were many passages that I reread to fully enjoy the poignant and/or atmospheric prose. I often felt as if Mona and I were having a discussion over a cup of tea. The Story: Mona’s story is interesting in so many ways. The familial aspect, her mother’s exile story, the family history and the connections and relationships between the people depicted were heartrending and informative. The political aspect was written in a way that it did not overpower Mona’s story but was more of an accompaniment to her tales. Even Mona’s teaching experiences were enjoyable. Although the children she was working with were traumatised from living in a country with political unrest, I found the anecdotes entertaining, educational and emotional. The Themes: There were many themes in this memoir. Family being very prominent. I admire Mona’s determination to collect the shattered fragments of her and her husband’s family history. Both history and politics are prominent in this book. What I especially liked was Mona’s ability to contemplate and empathise with the many conflicting ideals she was faced with. Her questioning is reflective and contemplative, as much as it is rhetorical. I wouldn’t know how to answer some of the questions she posed. My Impression: I have alluded to what I enjoyed about this book: the writing, the stories, the historical and even (surprisingly for me) the political aspects of Mona’s memoir. But what I haven’t mentioned is Mona’s perspective. The way she writes highlights her innocence, her voice is almost childlike; filled with the joy of experiencing new things for the first time. Also of someone who has not personally experienced the devastation of Zionism but can relate to it with an empathetic heart. Despite the narrative, In My Mother’s Footsteps exudes Mona’s love for her mother and the bonds they share; the love of a country, the family that surrounds them and the empathy and forgiveness necessary to move forward and, of course, the love of storytelling. I feel so privileged to have been a part of the read along with the author and the publisher Thread books. I am quite excited to share my thoughts on this book and am truly appreciative of the PR copy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marina

    This review has to start with a disclosure: Mona is a close friend. It is not easy being objective about a friend’s memoir. Not only because of the fondness you have for your friend but primarily because you know their story and thus cannot be certain if your pre-existing knowledge of their life hasn’t filled in gaps or made up for other possible shortcomings in their telling of the story. Having said that, Mona’s memoir helped me better understand her story by reading it in an organised, sequen This review has to start with a disclosure: Mona is a close friend. It is not easy being objective about a friend’s memoir. Not only because of the fondness you have for your friend but primarily because you know their story and thus cannot be certain if your pre-existing knowledge of their life hasn’t filled in gaps or made up for other possible shortcomings in their telling of the story. Having said that, Mona’s memoir helped me better understand her story by reading it in an organised, sequential manner. More importantly, it provided me with a view of a part of her life I did not know much about: her year in the Ramallah Friends School (RFS). Having lived for the best part of a year in Palestine and interacted with Palestinian children, their teachers and their families, Mona was able to get a good taste of what everyday life is like for Palestinians under occupation, and in so doing gain new perspectives. I particularly enjoyed Mona’s introspective moments, for instance, when she tries to balance her desire to help with the need to be respectful of local norms so that she doesn’t present herself as “the arrogant outsider”. Or when she grapples with the conflict: “When do you stop trying to resolve things peacefully and use force instead? What makes a person cross that line.” However, this book is much more than a memoir. It’s a moving tribute to her mother who is everywhere amongst the pages. Letters her mother had written to Mona during her time in Ramallah are interspersed in the narrative, providing a second voice, that of a loving mother to her daughter who is on a quest to walk in the former’s footsteps. Through those letters and by recounting her parents’ trip to Jerusalem, Mona builds a profile of her mother: a woman filled with love for her family and lost country and who has been able to maintain her humanity despite the struggles that loss has caused. One of the overarching themes of the book is the search for - and discovery of - identity. Mona was born in Egypt to a Palestinian mother and a Syrian father, grew up in Geneva, and married and raised a family in California. Her time in Palestine helped her understand that “identity is where you heart lies” so she can now think of herself unequivocally as a Palestinian American. This is a beautifully written memoir of multiple journeys: Mona’s and her identity’s, and that of her mother's.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jayanti Pandey

    #InMyMothersFootsteps #MonaHajjarHalaby 3.5/5 ⭐️ A memoir written by a Palestinian daughter as an ode to her mother, whose footsteps she retraced when she got an opportunity to teach conflict resolution in Ramallah for a year. Halaby never got to experience Palestine as a child and all that she knew of it was from the stories her mother told her; and the correspondence between the two once Halaby is in Palestine. Reading the letters feels like you’ve stumbled upon a sacred space. This exchange of l #InMyMothersFootsteps #MonaHajjarHalaby 3.5/5 ⭐️ A memoir written by a Palestinian daughter as an ode to her mother, whose footsteps she retraced when she got an opportunity to teach conflict resolution in Ramallah for a year. Halaby never got to experience Palestine as a child and all that she knew of it was from the stories her mother told her; and the correspondence between the two once Halaby is in Palestine. Reading the letters feels like you’ve stumbled upon a sacred space. This exchange of letters was the life of the book. You walk with Mona Halaby on the paths Zakia ( now 84 years of age) walked fifty-nine years ago. The fragrance of home is always so fresh; it never fades, not even with time. The author’s voice intertwines with that of her mother’s. Halaby maintains a journal recording the present while Zakia makes her (and us) see what lay behind that ‘present’. The read works on two levels: as a travelogue with Halaby writing of people, objects, food, experiences, militarization of towns, restrictions, paperwork, check points. In contrast it is a love letter to Palestine as Halaby seeks out the places where her mother walked, lived, studied, as a child. Zakia returns to Palestine while her daughter is there, and walks the cobbled streets once more after 59 years ! As she and her daughter stand in the garden of what was once Zakia’s home (an orange tree from back then still standing) they weep. And we feel their despair. The book is from a singular viewpoint but still makes an interesting read for those keen to know about the region and its history. It was also my first read from the POV of a Palestinian Christian. Most accounts I’ve read have been written by Muslims. However, the experiences are none too different! “Refugees are like seeds that scatter in the wind and land in different soils that become their reluctant homes. …If you had to leave home with only one suitcase what would you take? And if you could never return?”

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michelle McGrane

    “‘Refugees are like seeds that scatter in the wind, and land in different soils that become their reluctant homes’ my mother once told me. As a small child, I looked up at my mother and clutched her hand. The puffiness of her palm reminded me of a loaf of warm pita bread, and when she laced her fingers into mine like a pretzel, I felt safe. I would have walked with her to the ends of the earth.” This is a beautifully written and intimate portrait of a relationship between a mother and daughter. T “‘Refugees are like seeds that scatter in the wind, and land in different soils that become their reluctant homes’ my mother once told me. As a small child, I looked up at my mother and clutched her hand. The puffiness of her palm reminded me of a loaf of warm pita bread, and when she laced her fingers into mine like a pretzel, I felt safe. I would have walked with her to the ends of the earth.” This is a beautifully written and intimate portrait of a relationship between a mother and daughter. To read ‘In My Mother’s Footsteps’ is like undertaking a sacred journey with Mona and her eighty-four-year-old mother, Zakia, tracing their footsteps back to Jerusalem after Zakia’s fifty-nine years of exile. The book is a memoir in two voices, the author’s and her mother’s, the past and present intertwined. Zakia writes Mona letters during Mona’s year of teaching conflict resolution in Ramallah while Mona keeps a journal. Within its pages, she writes her impressions of her homeland, a place she has only experienced through her mother’s memories. She writes of the challenges teachers and students face while living in a militarized, occupied town and also sets off on a personal pilgrimage to find her mother’s home in Jerusalem. Mona had dreamed of being guided by her mother down the old souqs, and the leafy streets of her neighborhood, listening to the muezzin’s call for prayer and the medley of church bells. But after so many years of exile, it is Zakia who holds her daughter’s hand as they visit Jerusalem together, walking the narrow cobblestone alleys of the Old City, their roles reversed. This memoir offers a glimpse into the perpetual Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of both Mona and Zakia. ‘In My Mother’s Footsteps’ is a love letter to Palestine. A huge thank you to @NetGalley and @ThreadBooks for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Abhilasha Rajendran

    Firstly, thankyou netgalley for another great arc find!! This book couldn't have come at a more opportune time, when I was trying to understand a little better, the conflict going on in Israel/Gaza. This book is a first person narrative about real people, real families, and real events that happened more than half a century ago. Written very openly and directly it describes events experienced by the author's family when they were forced to flee Palestine and become refugees in their own homeland. Firstly, thankyou netgalley for another great arc find!! This book couldn't have come at a more opportune time, when I was trying to understand a little better, the conflict going on in Israel/Gaza. This book is a first person narrative about real people, real families, and real events that happened more than half a century ago. Written very openly and directly it describes events experienced by the author's family when they were forced to flee Palestine and become refugees in their own homeland. Refugees are like seeds that scatter in the wind, and land in different soils that become their reluctant homes’, the author says. When Mona moved from California to Ramallah to teach conflict resolution in a school for a year, she kept a journal. Within its pages, she wrote her impressions of her homeland, a place she had only experienced through her mother’s memories. As she settled into her teaching role, getting to know her students and the challenges they faced living in a militarized, occupied town, Mona also embarked on a personal pilgrimage to find her mother’s home in Jerusalem. Mona had dreamed of being guided by her mother down the old souqs, and the leafy streets of her neighborhood, listening to the muezzin’s call for prayer and the medley of church bells. But after fifty-nine years of exile, it was Mona’s mother who held her daughter’s hand as they visited Jerusalem together, walking the narrow cobblestone alleys of the Old City. Their roles were reversed. Mona had become her Mama’s legs and her memory – and the one to tell her story going forward. My Mother’s Footsteps is a moving and heart-rending journey of a daughter discovering her roots and recovering her mother’s beloved past. It’s also an intimate and tender account of daily life for Palestinians as never seen before. A must read! Definitely worth it!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Suzie

    Mona Halaby's achingly beautiful descriptive language and gift for storytelling draw the reader immediately in to her story. I felt like I was walking with her through the streets of Ramallah on her way to the Ramallah Friends School, and alongside her in Jerusalem where she retraced her mother's footsteps and researched her family history. Mona skillfully weaves together her work at the Friends School training the teachers in nonviolent conflict resolution and helping the children cope with yea Mona Halaby's achingly beautiful descriptive language and gift for storytelling draw the reader immediately in to her story. I felt like I was walking with her through the streets of Ramallah on her way to the Ramallah Friends School, and alongside her in Jerusalem where she retraced her mother's footsteps and researched her family history. Mona skillfully weaves together her work at the Friends School training the teachers in nonviolent conflict resolution and helping the children cope with years of living under occupation, her research into her family history, and her experience living in her ancestral land. One of the highlights is the chapter when her mother comes to visit her in Jerusalem, seeing her birth city for the first time since 1948 when she was forced to leave and not allowed to return to her home after the war. The poignant sense of both loss and resilience of not just Mona and her family but also the Palestinian people permeates this book. I could not put the book down until I finished it, and it's beauty remains with me. A must read!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    I absolutely loved this book. It's a great introduction to those unfamiliar with Palestine issues but it's also beautifully written and engaging on many levels. She integrates her mother's and family history into contemporary Ramallah while writing about her teaching year and the difficulty of conducting class meetings with children traumatized by occupation and daily indignities. The way she describes not challenging the Israeli's who "allow" her in to look at Palestinian houses now occupied by I absolutely loved this book. It's a great introduction to those unfamiliar with Palestine issues but it's also beautifully written and engaging on many levels. She integrates her mother's and family history into contemporary Ramallah while writing about her teaching year and the difficulty of conducting class meetings with children traumatized by occupation and daily indignities. The way she describes not challenging the Israeli's who "allow" her in to look at Palestinian houses now occupied by Israeli's and their rewriting of history is so well done you can feel her frustration.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I find that I give this book 5 stars. I took some time to really make sure that I wanted to do this, since it is not a rating I give easily. But I did enjoy listening (audiobook) to all the stories this refugee had of her life and of also her relationship with her mother. Most interesting is the way she would work hard to establish trust and report with her students. I am sure that Mona Hajjar Halaby would be a very interesting person to sit next to at a dinner party! Thank you to NetGalley for I find that I give this book 5 stars. I took some time to really make sure that I wanted to do this, since it is not a rating I give easily. But I did enjoy listening (audiobook) to all the stories this refugee had of her life and of also her relationship with her mother. Most interesting is the way she would work hard to establish trust and report with her students. I am sure that Mona Hajjar Halaby would be a very interesting person to sit next to at a dinner party! Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced audio copy! #netgalley #inmymothersfootsteps

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andre Dabdoub

    A Great Journey An amazing account of pre- and post-Israeli occupied Palestine. Mona Halaby managed to swiftly time-travel the reader between Palestine today and how it was back at the time of her late mother. On a personal level, Halaby has touched the depth of me when she was describing some of the places and, more importantly, some of the people I know very well. This has made feel like an additional live yet virtual character of her novel which she never meant to include. Thank you Mona

  25. 5 out of 5

    Janet East

    Returning home. This is a full marks book for such. I felt I was there, I understood the grief loss and turmoil as it was written from the heart. I could imagine the people the streets, as the were delivered to us so eloquently I learnt so much. The memories are so real and described so well. .

  26. 5 out of 5

    Israa

    Finally! A heart settling story of Palestinian refugees. Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. I wish I had read this sooner, as I enjoyed it more than I had initially expected. I’m pleased that this is clean, not depressing, and has many good take aways. Readers will enjoy the truth, history, culture, food (especially the food), and family love in this memoir. I love that this book is secular, while many books about 1948 Palestinian Nakba are from Muslim viewpoints. This adds to the peacefu Finally! A heart settling story of Palestinian refugees. Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. I wish I had read this sooner, as I enjoyed it more than I had initially expected. I’m pleased that this is clean, not depressing, and has many good take aways. Readers will enjoy the truth, history, culture, food (especially the food), and family love in this memoir. I love that this book is secular, while many books about 1948 Palestinian Nakba are from Muslim viewpoints. This adds to the peaceful tone of this book. My favorite quotes that I will save forever, “ I’ve never had a problem with Jews having a homeland where they can live in peace and security and have equal rights, but I do have a problem when they deny the same to others… I am ashamed to be living in a country that advocates justice, democracy, and human rights, yet has been spineless, and even colluding, with the injustices inflicted on the people of Palestine.” The author sums up my own feelings, and I can’t wait to watch her documentary. I will recommend this title to my school library and history teachers.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robin Price

    This is a beautifully written story told with honesty and passion. The most emotionally plangent memoir I have read in a very long time. It will jerk those tears right out of your head. Until 1948 Palestine was home to Jews, Arabs and Christians living side-by-side. They were educated, accomplished, modern and cosmopolitan. In the Nakba of that year some 700,000 Palestinians became refugees and were never allowed to return home. The author's mother, Zakia, was one of those refugees. This is her s This is a beautifully written story told with honesty and passion. The most emotionally plangent memoir I have read in a very long time. It will jerk those tears right out of your head. Until 1948 Palestine was home to Jews, Arabs and Christians living side-by-side. They were educated, accomplished, modern and cosmopolitan. In the Nakba of that year some 700,000 Palestinians became refugees and were never allowed to return home. The author's mother, Zakia, was one of those refugees. This is her story, and through it one learns of the tragedy of the Israeli Occupation for the people of Palestine and the loss of their homeland. Surely one of the best books of 2021.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Trisha Tomy

    Blog Review: https://trishadoeseverythingbutstudy2... I received a free e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This is 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5. This book was a truly heartbreaking read. I honestly don't know where to start, I've been trying to write this review for hours now, but have made zero progress. It's because I don't know how to even begin unpacking the whole lot of emotions that has made me feel. Anger, grief, sadness, despair, happiness, elation, pride; I could go on. Al Blog Review: https://trishadoeseverythingbutstudy2... I received a free e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This is 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5. This book was a truly heartbreaking read. I honestly don't know where to start, I've been trying to write this review for hours now, but have made zero progress. It's because I don't know how to even begin unpacking the whole lot of emotions that has made me feel. Anger, grief, sadness, despair, happiness, elation, pride; I could go on. All of this, and so much more. I felt anger for the way so many people who had lost their homes and families, for the children who were still dealing with something that had happened when they were 5, something that will probably never leave them. For the way people who followed a different religion and spoke a different language were discriminated against in a way that reminded me horrifically of descriptions of Nazi Germany. I felt grief for the many who lost their lives, for the author's family herself. Grief for so much that could have been, so much lost....not only lives, but livelihoods, homes, friends; their land. Grief for the way so many children now live in fear, people live in fear, people who take out their fear and anger on their innocent brethren around them. I felt sadness for each and every person out there who lives in a place that does not want them, reduced to being refugees in foreign lands, to running away because staying would be worse. Sadness that the world has come to this kind of thinking yourself superior, and pulling others down to prove it mentality, again. I felt despair, that so many of these people who left their homes, might never be able to see them again. So many people who left thinking that this hate might die down, that it would only be temporary, people leaving, taking only enough for a vacation, just clothes for that season, losing everything they own, all the homes and reminders of home, all the things they called their own, taken over by people justifying it to themselves that it was legal. I felt happiness that despite all the horrors these people faced, they still find it in themselves to be happy, giving, people. Helpful people who still have not lost hope. People who find happiness in the little things, in helping a fellow human when they're sick and cooking them food. Little moments of happiness, shining through all that is wrong with the world. I felt pride, pride that they are still fighting, still standing, proving that nothing will bring them down. Pride that these children are finding their way to be compassionate, that all the volunteers, the Israeli people fighting against the Occupation, all of them are working towards a peaceful cohabitation, all of them working towards peace, peace after so many years of fighting. Despite the positive feelings I felt at the end, overall, throughout this book I would feel an overwhelming sense of not-rightness. Of the feeling that this is not okay. And that ties into my next point, because as a person who primarily reads fiction, and reads it for a reason, this book? This book was scary on a whole other level. Because, in fiction? At the end of the day, you know it's not real. You know it's just a figment of someone's imagination. That it never happened, and never will. That despite all the horrors your characters faced, they came out on top, and even if they didn't it was never real. But here, here it is real. It is real, and it's happening right now. It;s been happening for years, and it will keep happening if no peace is reached. Generations of children will live in fear, growing up to be adults that live in fear, that express this fear in unhealthy ways using violence, and the vicious cycle will continue. Because the Israeli people? They're also people. People like you and me, like the Palestinians. People who can feel fear. And if they're taught that Palestinians are to be feared, because they're different and not like them, then they will express their fear in such violent ways, as they've been doing, and as they will keep doing, just like the Palestinians. Because this is a vicious cycle, at least it looks like it from where I'm sitting. One side does something, the other retaliates, fear grows, violence escalates, shaky peace emerges, but no one forgets the fear, and so they retaliate, and so the cycle continues. Now that we're done with the thoughts on the content, let's talk a bit about the writing. I loved the writing style, I was painting pictures in my head so vividly with its help. I loved the descriptions of the places and the food, the people and the whole atmosphere, really, it was so easy to get immersed into it. I especially loved the author's mother's letters, and they were sprinkled throughout this book in a very nice way, giving short breaks from the author's voice, while not breaking away from the overall message and content. One other thing I just had to say, after finishing, I finally realised the significance of the the tree on the cover. And it makes me so happy, to see home on the cover, in a way. The reason I'm rating this 4.5 stars instead of five isn't really a thorough reason, which is why I only cut a 0.5 star. It is in relation to the dialogues in places...sometimes the dialogues would seem very clunky, and I would have to read them twice or thrice to understand what was being siad. I do think, though, that the reason for this was that it was most likely translated from another language, and thus the grammar for english was off. There's nothing really wrong with it, I would just find it a bit weird. On the whole, an amazing and enlightening read, an done everyone should give a try, really, even if you just want to visit Israel and Palestine from a Palestinian's perspective, or if you want to know about the realities of this world, and the consequences of of such ethnic wars.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lucy-Bookworm

    “In My Mother’s Footsteps” is on one hand an account of the year Mona Hajjar Halaby spent teaching in Ramallah, Palestine and on the other an exploration of her own cultural heritage – she has family connections to Palestine, Syria and Egypt but also latterly to Switzerland and the USA. As the author herself says, “Identity is where your heart lies” and her heart has always been in her mother’s homeland of Palestine, so when she was offered the opportunity to live there for a year, teaching at t “In My Mother’s Footsteps” is on one hand an account of the year Mona Hajjar Halaby spent teaching in Ramallah, Palestine and on the other an exploration of her own cultural heritage – she has family connections to Palestine, Syria and Egypt but also latterly to Switzerland and the USA. As the author herself says, “Identity is where your heart lies” and her heart has always been in her mother’s homeland of Palestine, so when she was offered the opportunity to live there for a year, teaching at the Ramallah Friends School, Mona could not refuse. She left her husband & sons in the USA and set off on a journey of personal and professional discovery. The book couples anecdotes from the classroom with the realities of living in such a scarred and militarized place as Palestine. Mona also includes her quest to find her mother’s home in Jerusalem and to visit some of the places that she had only heard about from her mother’s memories. The inclusion of letters from Mona’s mother, each giving a new glimpse into her childhood in pre-1948 Palestine, gave a whole new dimension to the book. It truly becomes "a memoir in two voices" and the historical context really helps the reader to understand the context more. It was special to realise that Mona eventually took her elderly mother back to Palestine after 59 years in exile – Mona had always assumed her mother would be guiding her through Jerusalem, showing her the ancient Old City and the local neighbourhood, but it was Mona who held her mother’s hand and took her to see these places, having discovered them when she was working there. Mona was employed to teach conflict resolution, which seems like a very bizarre subject and yet the more she explains it, the more powerful it becomes. It’s sort of a cross between a behaviour mentor & a citizenship/social sciences/humanities teacher and she helps the children to find non-violent ways of resolving their problems. Her insights into why the children behave as they do are astonishing and yet equally many of them could only have been determined by an “outsider” I found “In My Mother’s Footsteps” powerful and engrossing, personal yet historical. I found myself looking up a map of Palestine several times to understand the logistics, where exactly was being referred to. I thought I knew something of the history of Palestine but I learnt so much. Yes we only see “one side” but this is a Palestinian writing about Palestine from the inside, yet with the additional perspective of someone who lives in the USA – and that cannot be ignored. The State of Palestine has now been recognized by 138 of the 193 UN members and since 2012 has had a status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations – hopefully one day soon a resolution can be reached that will allow the Palestinian people to reclaim their ancient lands and live harmoniously with their neighbours, Israel. Overall, I cannot give this book less than 5 stars – it’s a powerful read that will stay with you long after reading/listening to it. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator is perfect for the book, she fitted the role so well that I forgot that it was not the author speaking! The inclusion of the author’s own message/voice was lovely, as were the inclusions of some phrases in different languages. They fitted seamlessly and actually added to the authenticity of the book. #netgalley #inmymothersfootsteps @bookouture Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book free via NetGalley. Whilst thanks go to the author & publisher for the opportunity to read it, all opinions are my own. (Also published on my blog: https://bookwormescapes.blogspot.com)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eunice R

    A coin has two sides. This audiobook addresses the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has afflicted the peoples of that region since 1948, until today. The true story of a Catholic Palestinian refugee woman and her displaced journey which, for her, turned out better than for most refugees. Her daughter, Mona, the author, retraces her Mother's wanderings, and goes back to Palestine, even staying there at one point for the better part of a year. She endured check points and c A coin has two sides. This audiobook addresses the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has afflicted the peoples of that region since 1948, until today. The true story of a Catholic Palestinian refugee woman and her displaced journey which, for her, turned out better than for most refugees. Her daughter, Mona, the author, retraces her Mother's wanderings, and goes back to Palestine, even staying there at one point for the better part of a year. She endured check points and curfews, and other injustices but those were muted compared to her Palestinian counterparts due to her American passport. Here she taught traumatized Palestinian school children who had witnessed violence since they'd been knee-high to grasshoppers. She had come to help mitigate some of that by teaching more peaceful ways to resolve conflicts even among their childish selves. How much was suffered and lost by the Palestinians? How much fear can a person live with? How much violence is still perpetuated? Yet there is resilience in those people which shines out in community. The script is rather intense. It's controversial and you may go spinning into spirals of emotional convolutions. Take your time to listen. Feel the pathos. Readjust your perceptions and say, as author Mona herself shared from her school-going days, and repeat, "I am a human being." Change it slightly to, "We are human beings" whether Israeli, Palestinian, or from wherever; one is still a human being and therefore to be respected. Have compassion. This must NOT be ignored. ~Eunice C., Reviewer/Blogger~ July 2021 Disclaimer: This is my honest opinion based on the review copy given from the publisher.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.