Where the Streets Had a Name

by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Thirteen-year-old Hayaat and her Palestinian family have lived in Bethlehem, only... read more

Thirteen-year-old Hayaat and her Palestinian family have lived in Bethlehem, only six miles from the Old City of Jerusalem, since their family home and olive groves were taken for Israeli settlements years before. Her mother’s frustration, her father’s sadness, boisterous disagreements with her siblings, and an undercurrent of love and humor define Hayaat’s life. So, too, do uncertainties, from sudden curfews to the unpredictability of violence. When her grandmother falls ill, Hayatt is determined to bring her a jar of soil from the yard of the Old City home where the elderly woman lived years ago. Traveling with her Palestinian Christian friend Sammy, the six miles there and then back last all the hours of a single day and deep into the night. Journeying by foot, bus, and taxi, around and through checkpoints, sneaking over the city wall, the two meet other Palestinian travelers as well as Jews who are sympathetic and helpful. But the trip also brings back Hayaat’s terrible memories of a blast that left her face scarred and killed a childhood friend several years before. In the days and weeks that follow, Hayaat can’t shake a growing feeling of despair. Author Randa Abdel-Fattah has woven a rich tapestry of a narrative, incorporating eye-opening details of the challenges faced by families like Hayaat’s into a story that illuminates the importance of laughter, love, and above all, hope. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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