Book Reviews

Professor Norman Finkelstein

American political scientist, activist, professor, and author. @normfinkelstein

"Rana Shubair gives us an insider's view of her "beloved Gaza," the open-air prison where periodic Israeli assaults turn people into "numbers," and where daily life is at the mercy of a "power switch" going on and off (mostly off). In Shubair's telling, love becomes the only means of resistance, so as to remain "human beings like them"-- those who are free. Love of country and of people, love which no one can jail, proves to be a source of human and literary creativity. "

Gilad Atzmon

Author and Musician. @GiladAtzmon

"In Gaza I Dare To Dream is a mesmerizing window into one of the greatest miracles in human history: Palestinian resilience. These dispossessed people endure the most severe Israeli racist oppression but do not give up. Rana Shubair’s writing is rich, forceful and personal. Rana brings the reader to Gaza, to the sea, to the street, to her balcony. In Gaza I Dare To Dream you hear the Israeli drones above, smell the generator fumes and see the children playing on the beach. This book also provides invaluable insight into the role of Islam within Palestinian society and the power of religion as a unifying force. Rana Shubair is not a journalist who has visited Gaza for a week or two, she is the real thing. She has endured the open-air prison that is Gaza and provided a heartfelt account that is lyrical, poetic and devastating."

Denny Cormier

Social Media activist, citizen journalist, photographer. @santafeez

In the introduction to her powerful memoir, In Gaza: I Dare to Dream, Rana Shubair, a Palestinian, a teacher, a writer and before all a mother, begins her narrative by sharing a sad reality – a reality that I can echo based on my own experiences as a citizen journalist in Gaza in 2014 and 2015 - “The details of daily life of ordinary people in Gaza are all but unknown to the outside world.” Sadly, she’s right – the realities of life in Gaza are virtually unknown beyond the barriers that separate Gaza from the rest of the world – and the details of the lives of women in Gaza are by and large an absolute mystery. In this wonderfully written and very personal memoir that begins at the age of 15 as she and her family return to Gaza from a life in the United States, Rana sets out to change that reality by sharing dozens of stories about her own life – the lives of family members and friends – the lives of her children – the life of a woman and mother. What makes In Gaza: I Dare to Dream unique, and why I find it so compelling, is that it is a wonderful exposition of feelings – she invites us to share portions of a private journal that she began as a young teen before returning to Gaza and that continues right up to the present. And it’s a very personal sharing. In many ways,it is like reading a diary. Yes, there are intimate and often horrific details of the 50 Day Israeli assault on Gaza during the summer of 2014, for instance, and there is an explanation of Arabic terms that are used throughout the book, but Rana also invites us into the intimate world of her feelings and concerns, her joys, her fears, her reaction to lost lives, shattered dreams – but she is a resistant spirit – a woman with dreams of her own and a woman who dares to dream for her children’s future in spite of all that she (and they) have experienced in Gaza – in spite of the Israeli assaults in 2008, 2012 and 2014 – in spite of the daily challenges of living under Occupation – of living in an open air prison. When Rana sent me a copy of her manuscript a few weeks ago and asked me for my reactions, I told her that I would get to it in several days. But I decided to take a quick peek at it when it arrived by email a few moments later. Once I started reading, everything else went on hold. I was totally absorbed. I could not put it down. I read it cover to cover without interruption. My immediate reaction – get this book published. In Gaza: I Dare to Dream moved me. In fact, it inspired me.