Read secrets under the olive tree by Nevien Shaabneh Online


“We are a people who tell stories, Layla. You will now have your own story to tell.” Layla Anwar is a young Palestinian born into a land plagued with war and an apartheid regime. She knows all too well what it means to be an outcast, second class in a country she calls home. But Layla is also an outsider within her village and family. Whispers surround her growing up... on“We are a people who tell stories, Layla. You will now have your own story to tell.” Layla Anwar is a young Palestinian born into a land plagued with war and an apartheid regime. She knows all too well what it means to be an outcast, second class in a country she calls home. But Layla is also an outsider within her village and family. Whispers surround her growing up... ones that mask the secrets her family has kept for generations. Secrets and subjugation continue to plague Layla's adolescence and young adult life after the move to America, as the monsters of her past threaten to break the relationships she most cherishes. A lifetime of tragedy haunts her until she is forced to confront the truth and rectify the mistakes that have shaped her destiny. Layla uncovers the unholiest of secrets on her path to redemption as she discovers the truth of her family’s history. Secrets Under the Olive Tree is a haunting, mesmerizing novel that touches on the depths of the human spirit and unbreakable bonds that transcend tragedy. It is a story about the power of hope, second chances, and faith in the midst of tribulation. ...

Title : secrets under the olive tree
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 23009296
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 239 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

secrets under the olive tree Reviews

  • Suzan Atallah
    2019-04-20 11:26

    Unafraid to step outside of the box, Nevien Shaabneh tugs at the strings of our hearts by humanizing her main character, Layla, and allowing her to learn from her trials and tribulations as well as allowing redemption to be emotion in contention. Secrets Under the Olive Tree helps shed light on the common misconceptions about Islam, Middle Eastern men and women, and the stereotypes that surround them. This novel is unlike any other novel written about Palestine and its beautiful culture. The imagery in this novel is so vivid that it ignited a powerful nostalgia for Palestine, making me feel the late night breeze that brushed against my face as I sat with my family beneath our fig tree. As a female Arab American and teacher of literature, I've been waiting for an author like Nevien Shaabneh to educate our generation and future generations to come through her refreshingly uninhibited, yet modestly courageous and touching message. Secrets Under the Olive Tree is undoubtedly a must read!

  • SISTERS Magazine
    2019-04-10 19:34

    Secrets Under the Olive Tree is a moving debut novel written by Palestinian-American writer, teacher, and poet, Nevien Shaabneh. It centers on the life of Layla Anwar, a carefree yet conflicted Palestinian girl born in a village overshadowed by the eyes of a community where judgmental gazes follow a girl's every move; where whispers shuffle from ear to ear; and where a girl's reputation is as delicate as thin glass.Secrets Under the Olive Tree is a work of literary fiction that is wrought with secrets known and those untold, and the first chapter highlights the stain secrets can leave, no matter how deep they are buried. Innocence and naivety plunge Layla into a world where her questions remain unanswered, and it's hoped that the scene she witnessed would simply be forgotten. Despite the wall of silence, Layla's young eyes and mind come to realise why secrets must be kept when she tries to free herself of her own that threaten to further blacken her name – tainted on account of being born the wrong gender.Being the only female amongst three male siblings would usually make any girl feel special, or at least be spoilt by relatives far and close, but Layla was singled out, shunned, and labelled a burden for a crime she remained unaware of ever committing. Journeying from war-torn Palestine to Chicago, cultures and customs remain intact amidst desires to be modern. Layla struggles to find her footing in a home so far from home; and with an abusive father who rarely looks her in the eye, the gentleness of her eldest brother remains her rock.A refreshing and warming aspect of the book was the feature of a religious male character who transcends the stereotypical harsh and grizzly portrayal of men who feel close to their faith. Eiyad, Layla's eldest brother, is gentle, kind, and far from overbearing, yet he isn't perfect. Shaabneh struck a balance between humanity and Islam, and presented them as being mutually inclusive.The theme of honour is heavily featured, with Layla being a scapegoat in a perceived conspiracy that her family name will be smeared. Boys must not be spoken to, must not become friends, and must stay a safe distance unless they're prepared to take a woman's hand in marriage. Yet, boys could do exactly as they pleased with very little fear of reproach as long as misdeeds occurred behind closed doors. Seeing and feeling the injustice both verbally and physically, a tumultuous string of events put Layla's life at risk, and it takes kind souls unafraid of words that linger behind closed doors for her broken pieces to be set aright. Mistakes are made, and hard lessons are learned, and a bittersweet revelation seals the book in a finale that calls for a sequel.This isn't just a story about Layla and her father, but a story about several Arab women, and how cultural norms dictated the way they behaved in public. While the characters are fictional, their sense of loss, despair, and hope reflect a truth so many experience. Moments of heart shattering pain and loss mixed with overwhelming joy are ones readers can relish in, and its themes are those to be discussed in local and wider communities.Touching on socio-political, cultural, and even legal issues surrounding the struggles of traversing displacement, self-worth, acceptance, honour, and love, Secrets Under the Olive Tree does justice to what could have become a book that weighs heavily on a political focus on Palestine.Shaabneh interweaves both historical and Islamic knowledge amongst fiction, leaving the reader free from feeling talked down to. She paints a raw picture of the trials of being born a girl, in a patriarchal society, and how walking on eggshells can cause more damage to the self than the society it aims to appease.* LaYinka Sanni wrote this review for the December 2014 issue of SISTERS Magazine. LaYinka is an editor, writing mentor, and EFL lecturer who checks out more books from the library than she can actually read. She's passionate in her support for new and upcoming authors, and offers her services via LY's Writing Service. She currently lives in London with her husband and two children, and taps away at:

  • Samantha O'brien
    2019-04-13 12:28

    Just finished reading Secrets Under the Olive Tree and I have to say I loved every minute of it! I am obsessed with the story and hope there is a sequel! I honestly cannot wait! It was phenomenally written, I mean It kept me up all night! Beautiful novel, must read! Book clubs watch out, this one is heart-wrenching!

  • William Fitz
    2019-04-17 12:31

    I saw this on an ad on my FB and decided to check it out. I am happy I did! This novel was a great read! My book club is talking about reading it for next week! I have to say I am excited to get the paperback book and run through it again!

  • Ben Leiter
    2019-04-05 17:23

    Great story! This book is one of the best books I read in years. The journey the main characters face is heart rending. This is a must read book you won't regret it.

  • Shereen Malherbe
    2019-04-14 15:09

    This is a heart wrenching journey of a young woman's life. I had to put it aside due to exam commitments but the moment I picked it up again, I couldn't get on with my life until I had finished reading about theirs! The book represents humanity, love and the beauty of Islam. What Nevien does, is separate the cultural issues from the true meaning of Islam which represents it in its true light, without ever being judgemental. A stunning debut novel whose characters lives intertwine and become impossible to forget.

  • Batool
    2019-03-27 19:18

    The fact that this novel is about a Palestinian girl "born into a land plagued with war and an apartheid regime" is what inspired me to read this book. I couldn't put it down once I started reading it. It is a very interesting and emotional story which remains with you long after you have finished it. It is one of those books which make you feel that you have to read it again! Definitely waiting for the next book by the author.

  • Jennifer Siemann
    2019-03-30 13:36

    My Muslim students, who happen to be Palestinian, recommended this book as one that should be added to the school collection. It's an amazing story that would help the average suburban student to look into the lives of other religions or ethnic backgrounds with courage and understanding. It draws the reader into a life story similar to that of The Kite Runner, a work of realistic fiction that endures its characters to the reader.

  • Marianne Murray
    2019-04-08 17:31

    Beautiful and harrowing. Nvien Shaabneh speaks with a fierce heart of the impossibility of the situation in which the Palestinian people live - the consequences of post-WW2 international dictates righting one terrible wrong through imposition of another...

  • Eva
    2019-04-09 12:13

    Nevien Shaabneh will be at the Chicago Ridge Public Library on Thursday, May 28th at 7 P.m. for a “meet and greet” and book signing.My cousin, who is a local high school teacher in the south suburbs first mentioned this book to me a few months ago. I put it on my “to-read” list and forgot about it. But then a patron came into the library and asked me if I read this book. Since part of my Job in Adult Reference is Readers Advisory and I run a Book Club, I decided to give it a go. Now let me tell you, that the patron who asked me this question was not very happy with the author. She felt that the author made all Arab men look bad and gave non-Arab people a twisted view of how the culture is. I picked up this book and sank into the pages and into the world of Layla and after flying through it (and passing it on to my best friend) I have to say that I totally disagree with my patron. But we are all entitled to our opinion.Layla touched a chord within me because I have known many “Laylas” growing up. The book is beautifully written and the mystery (although I figured it out very early) will keep you reading until the end. I cried three different times and if I get emotional over a character, the book is a winner. Pick up the book today, you will NOT be disappointed!!

  • Liz P.
    2019-03-26 16:10

    Simply impeccable. Really, I only review books I can't stop talking about, and this was one of them. It has thrill, mystery, and had some really unexpected twists and turns. I bought the kindle version, which was convenient because I like to read when I am waiting for a client, but I also bought the book because I like owning copies of novels that I love. Just a great book, I learned so much and dismissed and I will admit that I rid myself of loads of stereotypes. Heard it was fiction, but honestly the emotions in this novel make it all seem so very real. Such a good read though, its one of those books you want to finish but wish you hadn't so you could keep on reading. Truly unexpected ending too. Can't wait for my copy to come in! Read it, and have a tissue(s) handy!

  • Karimah Grayson
    2019-04-19 11:32

    It is sad when girls must keep secrets to keep themselves safe. This book let me into the culture of some Arabs. It is eye opening and a good read.

  • Danah
    2019-03-25 12:27

    Very disappointed on how inaccurate Muslim Palestinians are portrayed in this book. I was so excited to finally read a modern day piece of "literature" (this is not literature... this is smut and infuriated me the whole time reading it) that would finally give my people a voice. It is a shame that a Palestinian-American woman having the talent of being to articulate an idea and formulate it into a novel would chose to write something that would contribute to how badly we as a people are already misrepresented by our media outlets. In an age where we are so misunderstood, a book that would help a non-muslim or a non-Arab understand our culture, our religion, our people a little bit better, is exactly what the Arab community desperately needs post 9/11. This book does the exact opposite. It feeds into that stereotypical, barbarian/Arab/muslim. It makes the people (myself included) who make it their personal mission every day to differentiate and educate the people around me about who I am who my people are and where I come from so very difficult to do. Anyone who reads this book please remember this is FICTION to the most EXTREME level!!! Although it may seem realistic based on what's shown in the news all the time, I ask you to please keep the following in mind when reading... One: it is highly unlikely and VERY UNREALISTIC that in any corner of the world all these devastatingly unfortunate events could happen to just one person. Two: the people depicted in this book represent (if they do exist) such a insignificant percentage of people. Three: this book will not help you understand middle eastern mores and values.

  • Kristin
    2019-04-23 14:09

    Loved this book. Story of Layla growing up in war-torn Palestine and Chicago. Always shunned by her village and her father for reasons she never knew until the end. Tragic and powerful.

  • Arianne Cousteau
    2019-03-24 14:18

    So much to say as I finished the book ten minutes ago. My friend lent me the book and I am going to buy my own because I do want it around. I read the book cover to cover and was truly fascinated. It was one of those good literary books that you are just consumed by. The writing is embracing, although its a summons a tear (both of joy and sorrow). Although fiction, the elements are as real as they can possibly get. I was born in France and have lived in the states for over twenty years. We appreciate people who know art. Whether it be a musician, an artist, or writers-I was taught to appreciate it all. At one point, I found myself a good friend to Layla. The characters were dynamic, different, and essential roles in her life. It truly goes to show you the domino effect of decisions made by one person, and the decisions made by all those before that person. Ugh, so happy with the ending but sad that it ended! I literally grasped for more. So good!Truly a great read, inspiring, and an eye and heart opener. I don't review books much, but this one was just buzzing around my work so I decided to give it a try. I see many people agree with me on its wonder.If the author is travelling I would like to know, I travel as well so I can probably catch a book talk or something-please post if news arises!

  • Noor Saadeh
    2019-04-10 14:27

    The writing is good and she sure sheds some very sad light on the all too common treatment of wives by Arabs, notably Palestinians. Where did all the male-female thing go so wrong from the writings in the Qur'an and the sunnah of Muhammad(S)? Sadly. merely another slice of one of the many things that ail the ummah. Perhaps an enlightening book for those who either don't realize the depth of the harm that is done to women or maybe for someone who is in a similar predicament. It sends a very scary message though about people who go outside the bonds of marriage and through this things get fixed. This is not the answer either. What the answer is, Allah knows. Even if your marriage is not quite as bad as those mentioned, still many will see similarities in the idea that women are subservient and have no rights, are easily held to account for all their actions while 'men will be men'. Not all all what Allah intends and certainly not the example of Prophet Muhammad(s) with his wives and family. A man who had ALL girls! Sad, sad, sad and not the best message for our young girls.

  • jericho
    2019-03-26 12:18

    Trigger warnings: domestic violence, sexual assault, abuseI didn't know much going into this story. I wasn't prepared for the rough life Layla would have but I appreciate the care in which Shaabneh told this story. The difficult themes--xenophobia, abuse, misogyny--were handled with care. This isn't one of those stories that uses these subjects in a flippant way to shock its readers. Some stories describe sexual assault in explicit detail but I'm happy to state that that doesn't happen in this book.Layla's journey to find herself and reconcile with the past was moving and Shaabneh has a beautiful way with words. I also enjoyed the way she shifted between flashbacks and present day. I never found myself to be confused by it and all the flashbacks were appropriately placed--never feeling abrupt.If this story didn't have a relatively happy ending, I don't think I would have enjoyed it. Some may say the ending was too convenient but I'll take convenience after a long journey of pain and struggle any day.

  • Carol
    2019-04-13 11:37

    This is the story of Layla, a Palestinian girl whose family moves to Chicago. The author was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Chicago so she brings a lot of credence to her writing. It is a well-told story and comes full circle at the end. This book would give insight to those not familiar with Muslim customs and the role of women but I think it can be appreciated by all women, as abuse and discrimination are not specific to Muslim culture. The book does focus on the negative aspects in that regard, although many parts of the story are hopeful and uplifting.My only criticism of the writing is that I think the author was too repetitious in spelling out the plight of Arab women. Once stated, her story tells the rest without continually reminding the reader.I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

  • Trudi
    2019-04-04 18:29

    Fiction. Learned a lot about Palestinian-Americans, their customs, culture, food, etc. The appalling status of women in this culture. Really interesting. I would have given it four stars for that; however, I didn't think the writing itself warranted a four. It centers on Layla who comes to the United States as a young girl and how she is treated by the various members of her family and then by her husband and his family and the "friends" who rescue her from her impossible situation.

  • Rebecca McNutt
    2019-04-07 19:17

    This book was tragic and sad, yet vividly-written and detailed. Layla's life offers many readers a whole new perspective on the world around them and her character is both likeable and complex.

  • Nancy James
    2019-04-12 13:20

    I enjoyed reading the book and couldn't put it down until I got to the Secret! Got my suspense going and kept me interested throughout the book.