Arab Boy Delivered: A Novel

Written by Paul Aziz Zarou
Review by Ann Chamberlin

This is a Palestinian-Christian coming-of-age story set in Brooklyn in the Sixties. The sexual revolution, civil rights, and Vietnam protests play to a soundtrack of Stones and the Beatles. Following on A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Jew Grows in Brooklyn and other such titles, this addition to the American mosaic covers a population rarely seen in the pages of books. The anthropologist in me would have liked the tradition to come to life more; I do know the American background.

Michael is the only child of immigrant parents trying to fulfill the American dream by running a little grocery store offering deliveries to a diverse neighborhood, hence the title. The day-to-day chores of such an enterprise are beautifully drawn.

Points of view of other characters are woven in nicely, too. Racism greets our protagonists in many subtle as well as violent forms, but destructive forces are also at play upon “regular” Americans who are caught up in manipulating agendas from on high that have resonance today. Maybe it’s what we need in order to face today’s world, but the cheery optimism of education and hard work as the path up and out seems depressingly pat. I would also have liked more tension between a community trying to keep its spiritual cohesion and the allure of the materialistic USA.