Soon to be a major motion picture from the award-winning director Julian Schnabel, starring Freida Pinto.
WRITTEN BY the much-admired Italo-Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal, Miral is a novel that focuses on remarkable women whose lives unfold in the turbulent political climate along the borders of Israel and Palestine. The story begins with Hind, a woman who sacrifices everything to establish a school for refugee Palestinian girls in East Jerusalem. Years later Miral arrives at the school after her mother commits suicide. Hind sees that Miral has the potential to change the world peacefully-but Miral is appalled by the injustice that surrounds her, and flirts with the notion of armed resistance. Hind desperately works to persuade her to stay the course of education, hard work, and non-violent resolution-but is she too late?
This novel of a Palestinian girl growing up amid the intifada is packed with historical facts, but never rises above mediocrity. Philanthropist Hind Husseini creates a children's shelter in 1948 in response to the destruction wrought by the first Arab-Israeli war. Decades later, Miral comes into Hind's care after her mother kills herself. As Miral witnesses the effects of the Israeli campaigns against the intifada, she draws closer to the political fringes, finally choosing to join the struggle in full. Yet the benevolent influence of Hind and an eye-opening friendship with an Israeli socialist subdues Miral's radicalism and offers some hope for the future. Jebreal is a successful journalist in Italy, and true to form the plot rips along with quick-reading prose, though the characters' simplicity presents a big problem, in that, despite the dire circumstances, it's hard to connect with archetypes. It's perfectly serviceable and offers a reliable refresher of the Palestinian struggle, but there are many more distinguished novels on the subject. (Sept.)