Where the Streets Had a Name

Thirteen year old Hayaat is on a mission. She believes a handful of soil from her grandmother’s ancestral home in Jerusalem will save her beloved Sitti Zeynab’s life. The only problem is that Hayaat and her family live behind the impenetrable wall that divides the West Bank, and they’re on the wrong side of check points, curfews, and the travel permit system. Plus, Hayaat’s best friend Samy always manages to attract trouble. But luck is on the pair’s side as they undertake the journey to Jerusalem from the Palestinian Territories when Hayaat and Samy have a curfew-free day to travel. But while their journey may only be a few kilometers long, it could take a lifetime to complete. Deals with the Israel-Palestinian conflict with sensitivity and grace.

One thought on “Where the Streets Had a Name

  1. Seemi Aziz says:

    Abdel-Fattah writes another heartwarming story as she represents the scarred thirteen year-old Hayatt, a Palestinian, and her best friend Samy who live in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. Their secret decision to take a dangerous and illegal trip into Jerusalem to bring back a small jar of soil from her ailing grandmother’s village in Jerusalem, is articulated well.
    Hayatt’s facial scar and the murder of her friend play a significant role in her trip beyond the wall. The journey and its obstacles are realistically portrayed. The characterization of Hayaat and her family members are realistic and authentic. The strength to survive in a war-torn country by depending on family and friends is demonstrated clearly. The stress of dealing with curfews, checkpoints and permits, as well as the patience needed is evident. Although Bethlehem and Jerusalem are just several miles apart this story will give readers an insight into how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected families that have been displaced. In order for the target audience to appreciate this story, they may have to read the story in context and not as standing alone. The need for historical background information on the divisive issues between the Palestinians and the Israelis may need to be articulated through research and reading other children’s literature focusing on the region e.g. The Shepherd’s Granddaughter, Samir and Yonatan etc. The inclusion of a map would have been helpful to many readers. While the suspenseful story has serious and frightening situations, Hayaat’s narrative also has moments of lightheartedness and mocking humor. The protagonist’s will to take action against all odds and despite circumstances against it, is enough to make her an authentic character who can dare to do something that is different and may be significant to her family and life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *