Reading Ibtisam Barakat's memoir, Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, it is a wonder that more war stories are not written from the point of view of children. Barakat's memories as a three-year-old during the Six-Day War are stark and immediate: the pain she felt as she fled barefoot from her home with her family, the donkey that comforted her while she and other refugees hid in Jordan, gorging herself on stolen sweets with her two older brothers. Each story and scene is told with a lyrical beauty that never strays from the progressively older voice of the narrator. More importantly, this memoir shares stories from the Palestinian point of view that are rarely seen. As Middle East peace talks are reopened, President Bush and other diplomats and world leaders might do well to read stories like Barakat's and those of other ordinary Israelis and Palestinians. As Barakat writes in her introduction, "To learn more about the Middle East, and to deepen our understanding of both Palestinians and Israelis, it helps to share stories. Mine is one of many."
Fri., Dec. 7, 7 p.m., 2007