Book Review on “In Search of Fatima”

895 words | 3 page(s)

“In Search of Fatima” is an extraordinary example of a biography story surpassing a fiction novel in terms of both its engrossing power and literature style. As such, the appalling details of the Israel-Palestine conflict are described through the lens of a small girl trying to adapt to the rapidly changing conditions that the life offers to her. The book can be, therefore, regarded as skillfully written life story and a literary monument to the tragedy of the Palestinian nation.

The book reveals a story of a Palestinian family that needs to reshape their familiar life due to the intense army conflict that breaks out on their native land. The story is told from the first person of a child girl that adds a sense of particular sincerity to the narration. The girl’s family is one of the last to live Palestine – they do not resolve upon leaving until the situation is evidently too dangerous to stay. In England, their life is finally safe, in the meantime, despite all the efforts, they do not manage to settle it the way it was in their homeland. The family members become more split and isolated. This disparity upsets the girl that finds it difficult to adapt to the new environment. When she is already a grown-up, she still experiences the mixed feelings towards her true identity.

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First and foremost, it should be pointed out that the book is highly skillfully structured. On the face of it, its two parts – the Palestinian and the English stories – are supposed to reveal an evident contrast. As such, one expects to read about the appalling events associated with the terror in the first part and the peaceful and comfortable mode of life in the second part. In the meantime, the book’s structure is not as simple as it might be initially assumed. Thus, in spite of the violent events described in the first chapters, the reader still feels the love and affection the author shows towards this time. The description of the streets, people, houses and places are so detailed that it is evident that Karmi still cherishes these memories in her heart. The author describes her home as a “private enclave, which I made magically immune from the bombing and the shooting.”

On the contrary, further chapters describe a much safer and calmer life pace. However, from a psychological perspective, these chapters are equally tense as those devoted to the Palestinian conflict. As such, it is evident that the life in Britain, however peaceful and convenient it might seem, in fact, features a hostile environment that does not let strangers in. As a result, the girl experiences a severe stress associated with her self-identification. On the one hand, all the things she cherishes are associated with Palestine and her former life. On the other hand, the British society, with its overwhelming indifference to the destiny of Palestine people and, most often, its mere ignorance of it, makes the girl feel ill at ease recognizing her national identity. As such, she explains she would be taken aback by the question about what her native country was, so that she normally preferred to say “somewhere in the Middle East.” The last remark is an unintentional reproach towards the Western civilization that is too self-focused to distinguish between the countries of the East and to see into their political situations. The author skillfully and, most importantly, tactfully summarizes this ignorance by noting that “societies not torn apart by conflicts, as mine had been, did not have same incentives to talk about politics.”

The title of the book is another curious point that needs to be analyzed. As such, it contains a reference to one of the book characters, Fatima. It is essential to note that it is not a frequent case to find the name of a minor character in the name of a book. Fatima does not participate in the key plotlines and, moreover, her presence is to be found in the first part of the book only. In the meantime, it can be assumed that Fatima is the symbol of Palestine for the girl rather than a woman, as such.

Thus, from the very beginning, the girl emphasizes her affection for this character mentioning her “a kindly patient motherliness.”When the terroristic attacks become more intense, Fatima turns into a consistent supporting element that helps to maintain the familiar life pattern in the family – that is why Karmi would write that ““Fatima became our anchor.” Therefore, Fatima is, first and foremost, associated with the girl’s close affection to her home and the country where she spent her first years of life. She is likewise a symbol of familiar contrary to alien. It should not be a coincidence that the girls’ final lines devoted to leaving Palestine refer to Fatima. As such, Karmi writes that “in the chaos that attended the fall of Palestine and the mass exodus of its people, lives were wrenched apart, families brutally sundered, life-long friendships abruptly severed.”

In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the book has a powerful emotional effect that does not leave the readers long after finishing reading. As such, the story offers truthful and sincere insights on the appalling events one might not think about while being away but is terrified to learn about while reading this text.

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