Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat
This book is a child’s box of beautiful and broken treasures. Ibtisam’s memories can draw laughter through a veil of tears as she paints her memories in the warm colors of a child’s mind. The author’s childhood innocence keeps the text fluid and even delightful, all the while recounting the most horrific and painful first-hand experiences of war. Chapter after chapter conveys the hard truths of war, relationships, family and humanizes war through a child’s psyche. I felt the isolation, fear and desperation of refugees – children separated from their parents and parents willing to “orphan” their children so they will have basic food and shelter. My heart seized up within me as little Ibtisam was accidentally left behind and ran until her feet were bloody, swollen and unrecognizable. I wept the relieved tears of a parents when they were reunited. Even in tragedy there are also many wonderful themes poetically woven through her story: the adoration of a loving father, the resilience of a family in war time, sibling loyalty and friendship, and the innate coping mechanism of a child’s imagination. This memoir is a beautiful and heartbreaking must read. Nothing shouts louder the inhumanity of war than the silent tears of an innocent child.