Eleanor Bader: "Murad does a terrific job"
Journalist Eleanor Bader recently reviewed Ida in the Middle for Indypendent, writing, “Murad does a terrific job of presenting Ida, her parents and two sisters in a way that is wholly believable… the story is highly nuanced. Not only are Palestinians presented as a diverse people with diverse ideas about how to live with and oppose Israeli control, but Murad ensures that Israelis are also presented as holding a range of outlooks.”
You can read the full review here.
MuslimMommyBlog: "A gorgeously written book"
The writer behind the MuslimMommyBlog wrote a glowing review for Ida in the Middle, writing “This gorgeous book truly transported me to Palestine!! The rich descriptions helped me feel grounded in the setting, and I almost felt like I could taste the crackling olives, listen to the adhan of the Mosques, and walk the streets of Palestine. Tbh- as a Syrian myself, I found many parallels with life in Damascus to life in Jerusalem, and it made me fall in love with the book even more.”
You can read the full review here.
Ramona Wadi: Ida allows "Palestinian narratives to thrive
Journalist and reviewer Romana Wadi praises the way Nora Lester Murad, as a non-Palestinian, wrote a Palestinian narrative, writing, “Murad’s writing is engaging and emotional, making the Palestinian experience tangible to a young audience. A Jewish writer married to a Palestinian, Murad is meticulous in her narrations and her engagement with Palestinians is based on observation, not appropriation, which allows space for the Palestinian narrative to thrive.”
You can read the full review here.
Mary E. Neznek: "One cannot help but become engrossed" in Ida in the Middle
Educator and advocate Mary Neznek recently reviewed “Ida in the Middle” for the Washington Review of Middle Eastern Affairs, writing that Ida is “a welcome saga of a young Palestinian American middle school girl grappling with her identity… In this young adult novel, one can teach the story of Palestine and the challenges Palestinians face every day living under Israeli occupation. At the same time, the book helps children understand and empathize with the plight of immigrants who have come to the United States due to the danger of political and economic turmoil in their native lands … Ida in the Middle is sure to capture the minds of its teenage readers. Told with a magical realism, one cannot help but become engrossed as Ida vividly travels from homework sessions and soccer games in Massachusetts back to occupied Palestine.”
You can read Mary’s full review here.
Angela Carstensen: "Jewish American author Murad writes with sensitivity from personal experience"
Angela Carstensen recently reviewed “Ida in the Middle” for Booklist, praising the way Nora’s experience in Palestine and with Palestinian family members can be felt throughout the book.
Angela’s full review can be read here.
Nada Elia: Ida skillfully weaves together fantasy and the Palestinian reality
Educator Nada Elia gives a glowing review of Ida in the middle in the Middle East Eye, praising the way the novel combines the fictional story of Ida with the reality of Israeli occupation.
Elia writes, “We get to read about the strong sense of community that sustains Palestinians as they navigate life in these extremely difficult circumstances. We witness the immense courage of Palestinian children – including Ida herself – as they dodge the occupation forces; and we hear discussions about survival and resistance, including the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. There are some exhilarating moments, such as when Ida carries a terrified three-year-old boy to safety, telling him his name, Faris, means “knight,” and that he is their leader, while he explains that her name means “Returning,” and he knows she will not leave him behind, as she scouts their whereabouts for a safe path home. And there are heartbreaking moments, as when Ida watches Israeli bulldozers demolish her friend Layla’s family home. This experience transforms Ida and, after having eaten more green olives, she is transported back to Boston, where she gives an impassioned presentation about the hardships that Palestinians endure under Israel’s settler colonialism.”
Elia also praises the discussion the book can facilitate, highlighting the resources on this site that can help teachers use Ida in classes.
Read Elia’s fully review here.
Natalie Jean: Ida is relatable and "thought-provoking"
Natalie Jean, a 14-year-old book reviewer from Boston, MA, reviewed Ida for This Week in Palestine. Natalie said, “I loved reading about Ida’s personal journey, one that spans continents and cultures, and is filled with surprises and discoveries. Ida in the Middle is a great book for those who want to discover how to integrate different parts of their identity no matter where they live in the world. It is a thought-provoking book that inspires young readers to explore their heritage and sense of self, belonging, and what makes a place become a home.” Read Natalie’s full review here.
Publishers Weekly: Ida "instills hope and warmth"
“After unknowingly eating a magic olive, Palestinian American eighth grader Ida is whisked away to an alternate reality, in which her family never left Palestine, in this expansive novel from Murad (I Found Myself in Palestine, for adults). Ida has just transferred into a new school to escape the xenophobic bullying at her previous one, but she worries that she’ll never truly circumvent torment when she finds “T-E-R-R-O-R-I-S-T” graffitied on her desk. When Ida eats from a jar of olives gifted to her mother by Ida’s aunt, and she’s magically transported to her family’s ancestral village of Busala, she finds that by consuming the olives, she can move between the parallel worlds. The two realities bear striking similarities and differences: while her mother is still as doting as ever in Palestine, Ida is shocked that her sisters’ passion for art and dance remains unexplored, unlike back home in Massachusetts. As these two separate lives unfurl, Ida feels she must choose between them. Murad persuasively crafts an enlightening tale via introspective, authentic-feeling prose, and a protagonist whose bravery in the face of her fears instills hope and warmth.”
Islamic School Librarian Recommends "Ida in the Middle"
“The book is relatable and moving, not just for those with a tie or interest in Palestine. It is a coming of age story that shows a girl grappling with forces so much bigger than herself, while at the same time dealing with homework and friends and stereotypes. Ida has a lot to figure out and the book doesn’t sugar coat a happy ending, it simply provides a moving story based on reality, through a character whose quirks and personality you find yourself rooting for.
I love the presence of Islam and the way it is apart of Ida and her surroundings, even though she makes it clear early on that her family is not religious. The Quran is mentioned, the athan, various salat, hijab, Hajj, Ayatul Kursi, Ramadan, Eid, wasting food as being haram. In Boston her friend knows she doesn’t eat pork, she went to Sunday school to learn Arabic at the mosque when she was younger. It doesn’t gush with Islam, but it is present, for example Ida’s sister and her joke about a good Palestinian girl shouldn’t have a boyfriend, it isn’t tied to their religion. The story is a Palestinian one, and as someone who is not Palestinian, the images, the foods, the smells, the love all seemed to embrace everything I’ve ever heard Palestinian friends talk about, and it feels like a warm hug to read the effects being in Palestine has on Ida.
I love that the author is upfront about her perspective, and I love that she is putting this story out there. The writing is sufficient: I was invested in the story, and it was an easy read. I don’t know that I’ll remember it months from now for it’s imagery or power, but I’m certain I’ll remember the commentary about life under occupation and the struggle to not be erased by a world that doesn’t seem to care about the settlers still taking Palestinian homes and their way of life away by force.”
Read the full review on the Islamic School Librarian site to learn why this reviewer liked Ida in the Middle.
Susan Muaddi Darraj: “Murad’s YA novel is a masterful debut”
“Murad’s YA novel is a masterful debut, portraying both the echoes of history and the beat of contemporary teen life with insight, honesty, and compassion,” says Susan Muaddi Darraj, the author of the short story collection A Curious Land: Stories from Home and the winner of the American Book Award.
Sahar Mustafah’s praise for "Ida in the Middle"
“Ida in the Middle is a familiar adolescent story of our yearning to belong, while illuminating, with honesty and sensitivity, the painful experiences of Palestinians under the Occupation. Fourteen-year-old Ida, the timid and ‘invisible’ daughter of immigrants, finds herself magically transported to Busala, her native Palestinian village, where she discovers her voice and purpose in the world. Ida’s amazing journey reveals the strength of our roots wherever they are planted, and the courage to bear witness,” writes author Sahar Mustafah.
Mustafah is the author of The Beauty of Your Face, which was named one of the most notable books of 2020 by the New York Times.
Jody Sokolower praises Ida as a “engaging, beautifully nuanced book”
“An engaging, beautifully nuanced book for upper elementary and young adult readers, its central theme—How do you survive middle school while being true to yourself?—is one that will resonate,” writes author and activist Jody Sokolower. “Readers will connect to Ida’s struggles as a 13-year-old Palestinian American trying to grapple with anti-Arab racism at school, her relationship to a homeland she has never seen, and the complicated dynamics of her family … A must read!”
Sokolower is the author of Determined to Stay: Palestinian Youth Fight for Their Village and directs Teach Palestine, a project that aims to incorporate Palestinian history, politics, and culture into K-12 curriculums.