3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Operation Olive Tree by Jemil Metti features an atypical school in Israel and shows the Israel-Palestinian conflict from the early 1980s. This historical fiction novel primarily follows two characters, an Israeli teenager named Irith Goldman and a Palestinian teenager named Jamal Shaheen. The two of them attend a school known as both Neve Shalom and Wahat-Al-Salam, and this school exists to promote peaceful coexistence amidst the political turmoil between Israel and Palestine. In their quest to promote peace, Neve Shalom and its teachers support Irith and Jamal as an opera-singing duo. The goal is to show unity through music, but not all is well. Political tension and strife in the community boils around the two of them, ultimately showing that the teenagers are simply pawns in a much larger game. In this action-packed, thrilling historical fiction novel, the question shifts from whether Irith and Jamal can bring unity to their peoples through music to whether they themselves can successfully make it to adulthood.
My favorite part of this novel was definitely the relationships in this story. Jamal and Irith’s relationship was realistic for both their situations and the time period they existed in. Between Irith’s defense of Jamal and Palestinians in general and Jamal’s protective actions of Irith, one could tell that they sincerely cared about each other. I love the way some characters use their relationships to sway other characters into doing what they want, and how each relationship was different from all of the others. Each character was unique and had varied interests, goals, and personality traits. The diversity of thought in the cast was incredible yet realistic.
Unfortunately, there were many punctuation errors in this book. While each error was small, when combined they created a somewhat distracting environment for the reader. An editor would have been able to catch many if not all of the errors. Honestly, there was not anything that I personally disliked about the story itself. The plot is very intricate and complicated, and at times it can be confusing if one did not pay close attention. I enjoyed this aspect of the book, but some readers do not, so choose this book when looking for a very involved read.
Overall, I would have loved to give this book a perfect rating. I enjoyed everything about the story, the wording and phrasing, and the characters. However, due to the volume of errors in Operation Olive Tree, I must rate it 3 out of 4 stars.
This book is an excellent choice for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, espionage stories, political stories, or anyone who wants to learn more about some of the issues in the Middle East in a more fun and relaxing way than reading news articles or textbooks. Additionally, there are multiple perspectives in the book, so it seems more balanced than many books on the subject. However, this book is not for people who are sensitive towards themes of racism, child abuse, police brutality, terrorism, homosexuality, or homophobia. There is also violence and death in this novel even though none of it is particularly graphic. There is some realistically-used profanity, but there is nothing erotic in this novel.
Operation Olive Tree
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon