Staples, Suzanne Fisher. Under the persimmon tree.

Author:Rosser, Claire
Position:Young Adult Review - Book Review

STAPLES, Suzanne Fisher. Under the persimmon tree. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 275p. c2005.0-374-38025-2. $17.00. JS

Staples, who has lived and worked in Afghanistan and Pakistan, makes the recent war horrifyingly clear in this YA novel. She has two main characters: a young Afghan girl named Najmah whose father and older brother have been kidnapped by the Taliban and forced to fight; and an American woman, Nusrat, who has formed a school for refugee children in Peshawar as she waits for word from her husband, who is working in a field hospital in a war zone in Afghanistan. The two meet when Najmah, disguised as a boy, makes the journey to Peshawar from her village in search of her father and brother when the Taliban are forced to retreat. Staples gives us an accounting of how Nusrat met her husband in New York City, converted to Islam, changed her name from Elaine, and was warmly accepted into her husband's family. We also learn how Najmah lives in her village, shepherds her family's animals, is wary of her greedy uncle.

The story of these two, Najmah and Nusrat, is filled with terror and drama. When we read about them, we understand what so many have suffered and are still suffering in Afghanistan. Through the story of Nusrat, the modern American woman who chooses to convert to Islam, Staples...

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