When readers meet Ahed Tamimi in the electrifying opening of her new memoir, “They Called Me A Lioness”, she is only three years old, being strip-searched by Israeli prison guards in the biting cold after hours of travelling, since the crack of dawn, to be finally allowed to visit her imprisoned father.
The opening sets the stage for an emotional and powerful narrative, where the innocence of a young child is juxtaposed against the harsh reality of an occupied land in which, no matter to what frightening degree Israel escalates its violence, for the Palestinians, it still feels like home.
Ahed achieves this by immediately transporting her readers into the enchanting Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, based next to Ramallah, a place where the warmth of community radiates through every sun-kissed stone and every tender smile.
Everyone knows everyone here, and their bonds extend beyond bloodlines – it is a connection of struggle and a shared mission. Nestled between olive groves and gently rolling hills, she summons readers to take part in the experience by inviting them into the village houses carrying the scars of a history enriched by resilience.
Readers are introduced to 28-year-old Mustafa Tamimi, a distant cousin and neighbour, who was shot directly in the face by a tear gas canister, fired at close range by an Israeli soldier during the weekly demonstration in their village.
This book is on the shortlist for the Palestine Book Awards 2023, please click here to read the full review on the Palestine Book Awards site.