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Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine
Cover of Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine
Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine
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Picking up where Tasting the Sky left off, Balcony on the Moon follows Ibtisam Barakat through her childhood and adolescence in Palestine from 1972-1981 and chronicles her desire to be a writer.
A Junior Library Guild Selection
A Palestine Book Award Shortlist Selection
A VOYA Nonfiction Honor Roll Selection
A Skipping Stones Honor Book
An Arab-American National Museum Honor Book
A Bank Street College of Education Best Book
An American Library Association/Amelia Bloomer Project Top Ten Book
A Notable Book for a Global Society
A News & Observer Newspaper's Wilde Best Book Award Winner
A Middle East Book Award Honorable Mention

In this follow-up to Tasting the Sky, a young Ibtisam finds inspiration through writing letters to pen pals and from an adult who encourages her to keep at it, but the most surprising turn of all for Ibtisam happens when her mother decides that she would like to seek out an education, too. This memoir is a touching, at times funny, and enlightening look at the not often depicted daily life in a politically tumultuous area.
A Margaret Ferguson Book

Picking up where Tasting the Sky left off, Balcony on the Moon follows Ibtisam Barakat through her childhood and adolescence in Palestine from 1972-1981 and chronicles her desire to be a writer.
A Junior Library Guild Selection
A Palestine Book Award Shortlist Selection
A VOYA Nonfiction Honor Roll Selection
A Skipping Stones Honor Book
An Arab-American National Museum Honor Book
A Bank Street College of Education Best Book
An American Library Association/Amelia Bloomer Project Top Ten Book
A Notable Book for a Global Society
A News & Observer Newspaper's Wilde Best Book Award Winner
A Middle East Book Award Honorable Mention

In this follow-up to Tasting the Sky, a young Ibtisam finds inspiration through writing letters to pen pals and from an adult who encourages her to keep at it, but the most surprising turn of all for Ibtisam happens when her mother decides that she would like to seek out an education, too. This memoir is a touching, at times funny, and enlightening look at the not often depicted daily life in a politically tumultuous area.
A Margaret Ferguson Book

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    6.5
  • Lexile:
    970
  • Interest Level:
    MG+
  • Text Difficulty:
    5 - 7


About the Author-
  • A bilingual speaker of Arabic and English, Ibtisam Barakat grew up in Ramallah, West Bank, and now lives in the United States. Her work focuses on healing social injustices and the hurts of wars, especially those involving young people. Ibtisam emphasizes that conflicts are more likely to be resolved with creativity, kindness, and inclusion rather than with force, violence, and exclusion. Her educational programs include Growing Up Palestinian; Healing the Hurts of War; The ABCs of Understanding Islam; Arab Culture, The Mideast Conflict; and Building Peace. The ABCs was selected by the Missouri Humanities Council as one of its Speaker Bureau programs in 2003 and 2004.
    Ibtisam has taught language ethics courses — Language Uses and Abuses — at Stephens College (2002). She is also the founder of Write Your Life (WYL) seminars and has led WYL seminars in places including Morocco, Washington, D.C., Missouri, and Ramallah.
    In 2001, Ibtisam was a delegate to the third United Nations conference on the elimination of racism, which was held in Durban, South Africa. In 2004, she was a visiting writer at the Creativity for Peace camp, which brought Israeli and Palestinian teenage girls to Santa Fe to provide an opportunity for them to live together in cooperation and peace. In January 2005, she was a moderator at the fourth international Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace conference in Jerusalem, where Israeli, Palestinian, and international faculty members and students work toward finding creative ways to bring about peace for Israel and Palestine.
    As an educator, poet, and peace activist, Ibtisam has spoken at the Center for Southern Literature / Margaret Mitchell House and Museum; William Woods College; Missouri Historic Theater; Dartmouth College; Printers Row Book Fair in Chicago; PEN New England; National Writers Union / New Jersey chapter; the International Children's Literature Day / University of Wisconsin; Children's Literature New England / Williams College; North Carolina Center for Advancement of Teaching; Reading the World / University of San Francisco; and various high schools, including the school district of Anchorage, Alaska.
    Ibtisam Barakat lives in Columbia, Missouri. TASTING THE SKY is her first book.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 29, 2016
    In this companion memoir to Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood (2007), Barakat continues her tale of growing up in Palestine from 1972–1981, a politically turbulent time. As a high school student, Barakat reminds herself that while she “cannot do anything about Iraq and Iran, the American hostages, Lebanon, the civil war and the Palestinian camps,” she can study for her exams. Themes of equal rights and education for girls become especially poignant as Barakat’s mother acknowledges that leaving school for marriage felt “worse than death” and decides to resume her high school studies. Divided into five parts correlating with the family’s five homes, the book captures Barakat’s growing understanding of the complex dynamics in her parents’ marriage, her outrage at gender-based restrictions, and her determination not to live a life like that of her mother. When her willingness to question and explore opens doors for her, Barakat receives encouragement and support from surprising sources, validating her sister’s statement that “being Palestinian teaches you to be ready for any destiny.” This is a compelling personal history, brimming with humor, wisdom, and empathy. Ages 12–up.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from July 15, 2016
    This intense memoir paints a dark picture of growing up in Israeli-occupied Palestine, where "we are made to live with no land, no country, no rights, no safety, and no respect for our dignity." The author, a poet, picks up in 1971, where her earlier memoir, Tasting the Sky (2007), left off. She recounts her years from second grade through high school, dividing the book into five sections based on their different homes in Palestine. Told in a first-person, present-tense voice, the episodic narrative deftly combines personal and political events. Evocative details convey her family's everyday life, in which her father's despair looms large. A memorable chapter recounts his threat to kill himself by crashing his truck; the whole family insists on accompanying him on the ride. As she grows older, Barakat feels embattled as a Palestinian surrounded by soldiers and hampered as a girl by societal restrictions. Starting in seventh grade, she connects to the larger world through pen pals and then through an eminent magazine editor who encourages her writing. A top student, Barakat grows in knowledge and also compassion, evident when she tutors her strong-willed mother, who returns to high school. A pervasive sense of loss informs much of her childhood, with a growing realization that no promising future exists for her or her siblings in Palestine. A poetic, deeply felt coming-of-age story. (resources) (Memoir. 12 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    October 1, 2016

    Gr 7 Up-An endearing memoir from an acclaimed author. This work picks up after the events of Barakat's previous title, Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, which left off in 1971. Barakat's lovely, lyrical style depicts an adolescence that will be simultaneously familiar to readers in its universal themes (struggle to become one's own person, family life and its usual squabbles) and very different in its backdrop of 1970s Palestine. The era was rife with political turmoil-the region was still reeling from the Six-Day War in 1967 and the continued fallout. With dreams of becoming a writer, Barakat embarked on a new path. She found encouragement from the adults in her life, especially her mother, who decided she wants an education, too. Barakat's recollections of her mother's educational pursuits are especially poignant. She reflects on her mother's chafing at the religious and cultural norms that forced her to leave school after the sixth grade and to marry at 15. Barakat wonderfully captures the mood of the time and place once again. At times humorous and heartbreaking, this work will immerse readers in Barakat's experience, leaving them with-perhaps-a broadened worldview. VERDICT Highly recommended for upper middle school and high school libraries.-Elaine Baran Black, Georgia Public Library Service, Atlanta

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2016
    Grades 7-10 In this sequel to Tasting the Sky (2007), a memoir and winner of the Arab American Book Award, Barakat moves beyond her early school years during the Six-Day War and its uprooting aftermath. She focuses on the years 197181, when shea feisty protofeministand her family shifted about in the occupied West Bank, trying to find a place that felt safe and like home. This family of seven is financially strappedBarakat's father is a truck driver afflicted with narcolepsy, a potentially deadly combinationand readers will be astounded at how often they relocate. The through line is Barakat's overwhelming hunger for education, a passion that she eventually shares with her mother, whom she tutors so that they might tackle high school in tandem. The beauty of the writing is its clear-eyed matter-of-factness. Barakat doesn't plead for sympathy (political or emotional); she just recalls, in concrete detail, this particular world as she experienced it as a young woman, and the result is as inspiring as it is engrossing.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

  • The Horn Book

    January 1, 2017
    In this follow-up to Tasting the Sky, Barakat leads readers through her adolescent years in the West Bank. Although Israeli-Palestinian relations form an inescapable part of life in Ramallah, Barakat presents war from a young person's perspective, focusing on concrete details rather than the larger political conflict. The present-tense narration is jarring at first but allows for vivid, immediate prose. Reading list, websites.

    (Copyright 2017 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

  • The Horn Book

    November 1, 2016
    In this follow-up to her first memoir (Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood), and beginning where that book left off, Barakat leads readers through her adolescent years in the West Bank during the 1970s and early 1980s. Family and school are central to Ibtisam's life, from sibling relationships to fighting between parents; from striving for the best grades to earning a coveted teaching qualification. The two threads intertwine as Ibtisam's mother decides to return to school, starting high school when her daughter does, and when Ibtisam, on the verge of leaving for college, teaches her illiterate grandmother the alphabet. Although Israeli-Palestinian relations form an inescapable part of life in Ramallah, Barakat presents war and occupation from a young person's perspective, focusing on concrete details (such as checkpoints and the difficulty of sending mail to Arab countries) rather than the larger political conflict. The present-tense narration is jarring at first but allows for vivid, immediate prose ( I think about that house every day, but it is no longer made of stone. Now it is made of memories ) that creates a portrait of an innocent yet engaged young woman. sarah rettger

    (Copyright 2016 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

  • Kirkus, starred review "Told in a first-person, present-tense voice, the episodic narrative deftly combines personal and political events. . .A pervasive sense of loss informs much of her childhood, with a growing realization that no promising future exists for her or her siblings in Palestine. A poetic, deeply felt coming-of-age story."
  • Booklist "In this sequel to Tasting the Sky (2007), a memoir and winner of the Arab American Book Award, Barakat moves beyond her early school years during the Six-Day War and its uprooting aftermath. She focuses on the years 1971–81, when she--a feisty protofeminist--and her family shifted about in the occupied West Bank, trying to find a place that felt safe and like home...The beauty of the writing is its clear-eyed matter-of-fact-ness. Barakat doesn't plead for sympathy (political or emotional); she just recalls, in concrete detail, this particular world as she experienced it as a young woman, and the result is as inspiring as it is engrossing."
  • School Library Journal

    "Barakat's lovely, lyrical style depicts an adolescence that will be simultaneously familiar to readers in its universal themes (struggle to become one's own person, family life and its usual squabbles) and very different in its backdrop of 1970s Palestine. . .At times humorous and heartbreaking, this work will immerse readers in Barakat's experience, leaving them with--perhaps--a broadened worldview. . . Highly recommended for upper middle school and high school libraries."
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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Ibtisam Barakat
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