Ibtisam Barakat's house in Ramallah is made of memories, not stone, she tells us. It is made of birds migrating in the sky, of her mother and father, of the skateboards her brother made from wooden vegetable boxes and of musical instruments shaped from rubber bands. It is these memories which fill the pages of her memoir, "Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine", which was published in October 2016 and has been shortlisted for MEMO's Palestine Book Awards.
"Balcony on the Moon" charts Ibtisam's extraordinary journey from childhood towards adulthood in extraordinary circumstances – the occupation. At the heart of the book is the juxtaposition between them and how Ibtisam navigates the challenges of both.
One year Ibtisam and her family break their fast to the sound of cannons as Egypt attempts to regain control of the Sinai Desert and the Suez Canal. Later, her mother hums victory songs as she cleans the house. What should be normal events in her life – observing a religious festival and cleaning the house – are peppered with the daily realities of living under occupation in the seventies.
This book has been shortlisted for the Palestine Book awards 2017, please click here to read the full review on the Palestine book awards site.