Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a free copy of this book, for which I give my honest review, through Goodreads First Reads.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
May the battles that we fight be for the advancement of humanity.
That’s not a quote from The Almond Tree; it’s the note from the author, Michelle Cohen Corasanti, that accompanied the copy of the book I received: a novel I don’t think would garner so much attention, both positive and negative, if it wasn’t important.
I understand Ichmad’s relationship with science, his passion, from the way he uses it to solve everyday and practical problems to how it provides his active mind with something productive to do when his present circumstances would otherwise cripple his spirit, and that passion ultimately creates for him a much needed platform to speak on behalf of others, for humanity’s sake.
I wouldn’t get into a wrangle about the politics in the story. Considering the modest portion of knowledge I possess in that area, writing The Movement of Crowns Series is likely the closest I’ll get to politics in this season of my life. However, reading of others’ political views, even in a fiction work, has value.
Another thing I wouldn’t do is say that this novel has the most sophisticated prose or plot and character development, but I think to look for that kind of “sophistication” in this book would be to miss the point. The story of The Almond Tree is told simply, often with the feel of a memoir, and its beauty is in that very simplicity. It’s much like some of the cons I’ve heard about the 2006 film The Nativity Story, that the dialogue is “stiff” or what have you, but I’m pretty sure the filmmakers weren’t trying to portray the characters as modern and Western, speaking as modern Westerners would. Keeping the dialogue simple helped to support the time, place, and culture of the film’s story, in my opinion, and I think the simplicity in Corasanti’s novel serves a similar purpose, giving the reader a sense of the narrative of a man who wasn’t born and raised in the West, whose thoughts wouldn’t be in English, and whose aim isn’t to give us a “novel” but to tell us his life story in the way that he, a man of science, can best tell it for “the advancement of humanity.”
If this book fuels the reader’s consideration and compassion for humankind, as it has for me, then I believe it has done its job.
Note for my blog readers: not out of keeping with the nature of the subject matter, this novel contains a minimal amount of profanity.