The Book Reviews – Website

February 13, 2008

A Stone in My Hand

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A Stone in My Hand

Author: Cathryn Clinton

Page Length: 189 (including Arabic to English glossary and index)

Reading Level: 6th


PLOT SUMMARY: This story is a moving depiction of what life amidst rampant violence and civil unrest might be like. Malaak is an eleven year old girl of Palestinian descent living in Gaza. Political and social unrest surround her. One day Malaak’s father leaves to find work and never returns. The same day that father disappeared, extremists had detonated a bomb on a bus in the area where Malaak’s father was supposed to be. With the Israeli occupation of Gaza, there is tension. Sometimes the schools are closed and all of the Palestinians are under house arrest. Malaak’s brother, Hamid, is coming of age and becomes caught up in the movement to stop the Israeli occupation. He participates in dangerous activities and isn’t afraid to taunt and throw stones at the Israeli soldiers in his neighborhood. Malaak is suffering and withdraws. She speaks little since her father has disappeared. The violence and despair around her at times seems overwhelming, yet she preserves. Her friendship in a bird named Abdo gives her strength and courage. When danger draws even closer, Malaak is pulled into her brother’s secret world – one in which murmuring of Islamic jihad can be heard. Should the Palestinians continue to yield to Israeli control or will they tire of forced occupation, violence, and living in a constant state of upheaval? Will Hamid join in the fight? What will happen to Malaak’s family?


AREAS FOR TEACHING: As a teaching tool, I think that this book would be fabulous for showing students how to slow down the action in an event. The simplicity of the language and the slow pace of the action are reflective of Malaak’s depression and limited desire to speak. The reader gets a realistic sense of her grief and suffering without excessive explanations. The words are concise but powerful. For example, on page 43 the author writes “I open my eyes wide, trying not to blink. But my eyes are oceans and each blink is a wave that sends the salty water down my cheeks.” 


REVIEW: Overall, I was a little disappointed in the ending only in the sense that it doesn’t really end – which may have been the author’s point about the war and the grief. Violence continues to beget violence and the pain and sadness live on. There is one beautiful quote in the book that Malaak’s mother quotes from father – “Bravery is not seen in one act. It is measured by the choices and deeds that fill our everyday lives.” That only could be a great discussion and written response piece in the classroom. Students could even examine other works of literature where characters were heroic through their every day survival and their perseverance, and how in their own lives their choices and deeds affect them.


RELATED WEBSITES: (slide show – Gaza Strip documentary is available for purchase)


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor



  1. I had to read this book for a freshman year summer reading requirement. It looked so boring and uninteresting. When I finally read it, I was amazed at how worng I had been! It turned out to be one of the very best books I have ever read! I found myself getting the chills ever other sentence! 🙂 This book is inspiring and absolutely wonderful!

    Comment by Hailey — September 11, 2011 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

  2. O kay

    Comment by Anonymous — May 17, 2012 @ 7:48 am | Reply

  3. It is a great book. I LOVE it. Except, the ending was so,so.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 17, 2012 @ 7:50 am | Reply

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