My review of Homes of the Heart: A Ramallah Chronicle is up over at PopMatters.
Elegant, though it often is, Homes of the Heart is inconsistent as a memoir. Its chapters are short and often broken up into veritable snippets. The story meanders as the unnamed narrator, a writer much like Wadi, meanders around Ramallah on foot. The sights of structures as he remembers them versus how they are now causes him to ruminate on his childhood, his schooling, his friends, his teachers, his family, their neighbors, and the complex history of and relationship between the twin towns of Ramallah and al-Bireh. His reminiscences read as singular short reports rather than one engaging narrative. Still, moments shine, as in the narrator’s forced comparisons between the Ramallah he remembers, the one he loves, longs for, and used in his fiction, to the Ramallah he now sees. What the narrator finds very quickly is that everywhere it seems is “quite different from what I’d stored up in my memory.”