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Reviewed by Natalie Soine for Readers' Favorite
Operation Olive Tree is set in the West Bank farming village of Deir-Al-Hattab in May of 1983. Students Jamal Shaneen and Irith Goldman attend Neve Shalom High School and develop a friendship through their love for singing. Irith’s father, David Goldman, works at Tel Aviv University as a physics professor. Miss Susan Roth, a music teacher from Tel Aviv University, invites Jamal and Irith for singing lessons. Susan also works for the intelligence community and encourages the two students to sing together in the hope of encouraging peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Even though funding for the students is covered by the Ministry of Education, the success of their education is overshadowed by suspicion and disagreements between the family members and the authorities. This inspiring story is about two students who have an opportunity to bring peace to their homeland through music, despite their complicated family relationships.
Operation Olive Tree is a thrilling, action-packed novel filled with twists, turns, and surprises from beginning to end, including conflicts between military forces and government agents. The interesting variety of characters, family members, and friends are all well defined and easy to relate to. Irith is a talented singer and an extremely brave girl who stands up for her rights. Jamal has both the intelligence and willpower required to ensure his success in both medicine and singing. While the story may seem complicated at times, it becomes clearer as author Jemil Metti begins to untangle the spider’s web. Overall, a fantastic, intriguing novel highly recommended to all adults.