Elsa Marston
children's author

Comments about Figs and Fate. . .


"Hearing these stories from young people in different and difficult settings makes their lives more fathomable, more believable. ...these teens demonstrate all that is best in a new and challenged generation seeking a better life. ...an excellent addition to the multicultural collection for public and school libraries." (VOYA)

"The five short stories collected here move far beyond stereotype to personalize the lives of young contemporary teens . . . Readers will recognize the universals of coming-of-age, even as they are drawn into the rich diversity and the desperation of daily life." (Booklist)

"The author's rich descriptions of Middle Eastern culture provide the context for the five individuals as they make choices concerning their dreams and hopes. Written in a style that young adults will find easy to read and engaging . . . a useful supplement to the study of the Arab world." (Multicultural Review)

...intimate tales about life in Middle East countries from the perspective of the young. ...a welcome and human glimpse into an often misunderstood culture.
(Kirkus Reviews)

"An enjoyable and often surprising collection . . . These stories dispel many stereotypes about this part of the world. The characters are complex and interesting, and the Middle Eastern settings are described in rich detail." (School Library Journal)

...readers gain a fuller understanding of the teens' hopes, fears, and doubts growing up in the contemporary Middle East. ...recommended for filling an important niche in YA literature.
(Library Journal)

"...provocative tales" (The Horn Book)

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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FIGS AND FATE: STORIES ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE ARAB WORLD TODAY

In these five stories we meet young people whose concerns and feelings will have a familiar ring for young Americans, in spite of the different cultures they represent. There's Rania, a city girl living in an Egyptian village, who desperately wants a good friend. And Suhayl, a boy in Damascus, torn by his parents' divorce. And Aneesi, from a poor village in Syria but working for an affluent family in Lebanon . . . how can she reconcile her own ambitions with her family's needs? And then there's Amal in Baghdad, trying to fit in at school while her middle-class family struggles with impoverishment. And finally Rami, who lives in a Palestinian refugee camp . . . can he make love bloom for his handsome but disheartened older brother?

The stories are meant as a bridge to understanding and a sense of familiarity, a focus on individuals we can relate to, rather than the stereotypes that so often characterize Arab society.