Mornings in Jenin: Resilience through Storytelling
The novel begins in the picturesque Palestinian village of Ein Hod, later renamed Jenin after occupation by Israeli forces. The Abulheja family becomes the focus of the story, embodying the personal and collective challenges of a people oppressed by the political history of the region.
The story is driven by the figure of Amal, the youngest daughter of the family, whose fate is inextricably intertwined with the troubled history of her people and, through the eyes of the protagonist, the reader is led to explore the complex social and political dynamics of Palestine. The novel follows her life journey through the years, witnessing the painful transformations of her family and community. The challenges of the Palestinian diaspora are addressed with courage and honesty, offering an intimate look at the daily struggle for survival, dignity and cultural identity.
Central, however, are the main characters, Amal’s relatives and friends. The patriarch, Baba, embodies the resilience and dignity of a people subjected to countless challenges. The mother, Um Khulthum, is a figure of quiet strength whose determination to preserve family and culture is palpable on every page. Amal’s siblings, born and raised in a world marked by violence and injustice, each facing their own struggles and carrying the weight of the past on their shoulders. Through the stories of these characters, Abulhawa paints a human portrait of the complexities of life under occupation. Their family ties become a metaphor for Palestinian resilience, in which love and loyalty become the glue that holds the Jenin community together despite adversity. The challenges the characters face, from exile to loss, shape their character and fuel their commitment to the Palestinian cause. Their personal stories become a reflection of a people’s collective struggle for freedom and self-determination
Indeed, one of the key elements of the narrative is surely the depiction of the devastating effects of forced displacement on the individual and collective psyche. The Abulheja, like so many other Palestinians, find themselves forced to leave their land, uprooted from a reality that inexorably changes. The novel explores cultural dislocation, the loss of a sense of belonging and the psychological impact of exile on the protagonist family. Resilience thus turns out to be a central theme that permeates the novel. In spite of adversity, the Abulheja family and the Jenin community endure with determination, trying to preserve their cultural identity and Palestine’s centuries-old history. Solidarity among the characters becomes a bulwark against the forces that seek to erase Palestinian memory and culture.
The novel, without indulging in easy stereotypes, depicts the lives of Jenin residents in a complex and humane way, giving voice to an often misunderstood and marginalized community. The stories of Amal and her family become the thread through which daily struggles, family ties and perseverance in the face of adversity emerge.
Why read “Mornings in Jenin?” Because it is a narrative masterpiece that, through the story of the Abulheja family, offers a profound reflection on human resilience, cultural identity and the struggle for justice in a context of political conflict. Susan Abulhawa packs a compelling and engaging story that not only informs the reader about the history of Palestine, but also invites him or her to reflect on the common humanity that unites us all, regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.