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Book Review: As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow

by | Apr 17, 2023 | Book Reviews, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Age Rating: 14+

We’re excited to bring you an in-depth As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow review, a powerful and heart-wrenching debut novel by Zoulfa Katouh that has already captured our hearts. This unforgettable tale of love, hope, and the fight for freedom amidst the backdrop of the Syrian Revolution is a must-read for anyone seeking a story that will stay with them long after the final page has been turned. So, grab a cozy spot, and let’s dive into this beautifully crafted novel.

The Struggle for Freedom and Resolve in Leaving Home

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow tells the heart-wrenching story of Salama Kassab, a pharmacy student whose life is upended when the cries for freedom break out in Syria, plunging the country into a brutal revolution. Set in the besieged city of Homs, the novel takes readers on an emotional journey through the shifting sense of morality and resolve in leaving home amidst the chaos of war as Salama contends with bullets and bombs, military assaults, and her fears.

Salama’s journey begins in a world filled with the hope and promise of a bright future. As a dedicated pharmacy student, she dreams of one day using her knowledge and skills to help her community. However, when the Syrian Revolution erupts, her world is turned upside down, and she is forced to question everything she once knew.

War’s Impact on Love, Loyalty, and Morality

Salama’s world is shattered as she loses her family, home, and dreams to the Syrian Revolution. Volunteering at a hospital in Homs, she is forced to confront the horrors of war while tending to the wounded who flood through the doors daily.

Desperate to escape the violence and find safety for herself and her pregnant sister-in-law, Layla, Salama is haunted by her imagined companion, Khawf. This manifested physical embodiment of her fear constantly pushes her to leave her homeland, but Salama is torn between her loyalty to Syria and her desire for survival.

As the war continues to devastate her country, Salama’s relationships with those around her are tested. Her once unwavering love for her homeland now competes with the overwhelming desire to keep her loved ones safe. This struggle is brought to life through Salama’s interactions with her friends, family, and the people she met during her time at the hospital.

Picture of As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow in a lemon grove

A Love Letter to Syria Amidst Conflict

Katouh’s novel is a love letter to Syria, capturing both the devastating effects of war and the indomitable spirit of its people. As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow explores the complexities of love, loyalty, and the shifting sense of morality as Salama navigates the challenges of the Syrian Revolution.

When she meets Kenan, a member of the Free Syrian Army, on a fateful day, she starts to doubt her resolve to leave home altogether. Their blossoming love is a beacon of hope amidst the darkness, defying the violence surrounding them.

Through the relationship between Salama and Kenan, the novel delves into the nature of love amidst the turmoil of war. Their connection is not only a source of comfort and support but also an embodiment of the resilience and determination of the Syrian people. It’s a testament to the power of love to heal and sustain even in the darkest times.

The Power of Hope, Love, and Resilience

As Salama grapples with the decision to stay or leave, she must come to terms with her morality before she might finally breathe free. The novel poignantly depicts the sacrifices made by those fighting for their freedom and the difficult choices faced by those caught in the crossfire of war. Katouh skillfully weaves the themes of love, loss, and hope throughout the narrative, creating a story that is both heartbreaking and uplifting.

Salama’s journey is filled with moments of intense sorrow but also with moments of remarkable courage and resilience. As she faces the harsh realities of war, she learns to find hope in the most unexpected places. This hope is not only present in her growing love for Kenan but also in the unwavering determination of the Syrian people to fight for a better future.

The Human Spirit Amidst the Chaos of War

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow shines a light on the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable suffering. The novel delves into the lives of ordinary people caught in the crossfire of the Syrian Revolution, painting a vivid portrait of the everyday heroes who risk their lives to help others.

From the doctors and nurses in the hospital where Salama volunteers to the brave men and women of the Free Syrian Army, the novel showcases the indomitable spirit of the Syrian people in their fight for freedom and a brighter future.

A Timeless Story of Courage, Love, and Sacrifice

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow is an unforgettable tale that pays tribute to the strength and resilience of the Syrian people. Katouh’s vivid prose and well-crafted characters bring the story to life, making it an essential read for both YA and adult readers. With its powerful message of hope, love, and the resolve to fight for freedom, As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow will leave a lasting impact on anyone who reads it.

This novel is a compelling story of love and survival and a testament to the power of the human spirit to endure and triumph over adversity. In a world where the headlines are often filled with stories of violence and despair, As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow serves as a poignant reminder of the strength within each of us and the extraordinary lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.

If you found this review helpful, you can check out the book at Bookshop.org here and support local bookstores along the way!