Elsa Marston
children's author

"These stories may also clarify religious principles, as in Elsa Marston's "the Olive Grove" in which Muslim Mujahhid, having seen his brother and best friend killed by Israelis, discovers his own jihad: to struggle peacefully for his family's rights in the midst of chaos and war." (Kirkus, starred review)

Forthcoming in 2014:
Just published, 2013:
Fiction, young adult
An adventure in ancient Egypt
Poetry
poems inspired by animals depicted in Southwestern rock art
Nonfiction
a look at the variety of women's lives in the Middle East and North Africa
History
Stories in Y-A collections
in FIRST CROSSING AND OTHER STORIES OF IMMIGRANT TEENS
in MEMORIES OF SUN: STORIES OF AFRICA AND AMERICA (2004)
in SOUL SEARCHING: THIRTEEN STORIES ABOUT FAITH AND BELIEF

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"The Olive Grove"

...a tranquil scene introduces the SOUL SEARCHING collection--but religious faith doesn't always bring peace...

Mujahhid and his friends have been throwing stones at the occupying army. . . it's almost like an exciting game. Sent to stay with relatives in a village, he resents having to do something as humdrum as helping with the olive harvest. But when soldiers come to destroy the trees, Mujahhid learns that sometimes the struggle to do a simple but essential task is as important a "jihad" as the patriotic call to battle. And he realizes that even among the enemy there are good people who carry on a moral struggle against injustice.

"The Olive Grove" helps the reader understand the Arab/​Israeli conflict from the viewpoint of a young Palestinian, a rarity in American literature.

SOUL SEARCHING's collection of stories about young people of varied religions, facing real-life situations that involve their faith in some way, has received excellent reviews and has been chosen for high school courses on world religions.


SOME IDEAS TO TALK ABOUT . . .

If you were in Mujahhid's shoes, would you join the stone-throwers?

Have you ever been torn between trying to protect yourself and trying to do something you thought was right?

What do you think is the most important thing Mujahhid learns from his experience in the village?

Which is better, if you are under some kind of oppression: to stick to your business and hope things will improve, or to fight vigorously for your rights--and possibly suffer?