Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Figs and Fate: Stories about growing up in the Arab world today by Elsa Marston

Each of the five stories in this book concerns a teenager in a Middle Eastern country, who is faced with a situation challenging their right or a loved one’s right to happiness and self esteem. The circumstances of each challenge are unique to the scenario of the culture, but the spirit and determination that the teenagers find to meet their situations are alike. Two of the problems come from economic difficulty, two from class conflict, and one from a broken family. A boy’s older cousin, living in a refugee camp, has had to become a peddler and give up school. For a girl in Iraq, war has caused things like a toy to be an unobtainable luxury for a younger brother. In these two cases, the cousin seems crushed, without hope of a future, and the younger brother can’t understand why Santa isn’t able to bring him a toy truck. Of the five main teenagers in the stories, two manage to make some change in their surroundings, while the other three find their biggest change within themselves. Marston imprints their lives on the reader; we see them and watch them in their worlds.