The Scar of David
Amal is only a child in the 1967 war that made refugees of thousands of Palestinians. But her story begins long before she was born, in the first disinheritance of the Palestinians in 1948. That is when her family initially flees their ancestral home in Ein Hod to begin generations of “temporary” living in thrown-together refugee camps. In the mayhem of this forced exit, Amal’s older brother is lost. He is simply taken by a Jewish soldier who longs to be able to give his wife a child.
Amal passes her childhood only hearing rumors of the boy who vanished, only hearing stories of their affluent life in Ein Hod. She becomes an orphan and is sent to a school in Jerusalem where she is a charity student. Eventually she earns a scholarship to study in America. But the haunting sadness of her family’s history follows her there, and her life is a long process of trying to get past the anger and accept her own fate, with many surprising twists and turns—and an encounter with a time before her own memory in the form of her long lost brother.
This complex story is beautifully told, weaving in historical events that are familiar, but which in the U.S. at least have always been filtered through an Israeli point of view. The perspective is brutal, yet ultimately not without hope. And it is elevated by Abulhawa’s use of language, as rich and surprising as an exotic flower. She draws us into the nightmare of her heroine’s existence with convincing passion.