January 2024

The Blue Between Sky and Water

By Susan Abulhawa


In this historical fictive novel, the author Susan Abulhawa tells the story of a Palestinian family living in Beit Daras and how their lives changes drastically after the settlement of the colony of Israel in the 1940s. Susan tells a heart-sobbing story of how the occupation removes a family from their land and how the impact of violence and settler colonialism have on an entire people. Additionally, this all results in displacement, trauma and erasing of one’s identity, not only for the people witnessing the horrors, but the impact also affects multiple of generations of Palestinians.


The story follows a woman named Nazmiyeh, later known as Hajje Nazmiyeh. Her life as a daughter, a sister and a newlywed completely changes during the Nakba in 1948. As Nazmiyeh, along with thousands of other Palestinians, flee to Gaza, it becomes evident how the displacement of an entire people results in the separation of a family. Nazmiyeh brother, Mamdouh, moves abroad to give his family a better life, movement and opportunities. However, this choice also brings him and his family other heartaches and sorrow. Here is also, where the story splits and we can follow the story in Gaza, where Nazmiyeh still persistently resides, alongside reading about the life of Mamdouh and his grandchild, Nur, living now in America.


Despite the story being historical fiction, the substance of the story is regardless real and Susan has done an impressive work telling a vulnerable story about a resilient people. She highlights the real-life consequences that settler colonialism has on the indigenous people, who have lived and respected their land for generations. She also highlight how this violence has and still has tremendous turmoil on generations that follow.  Susan, who is a Palestinian-American, admirably writes how displaced Palestinians living around the world, with little to no access to their homeland and identity, along with the Palestinians living under extreme conditions in Gaza are continuously affected by the recurrent violence. Nevertheless, Susan’s story also highlights resistance and joy that always prevails, reunion with your family as possible and the liberation of the land and its people as a continuous and ongoing battle.


Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian-American writer, human rights activist and political commentator. Her debut book, Morning in Jenin, published in 2010 has been translated into almost 30 languages and her second novel, The Blue Between Sky and Water (2015), has also been an international bestseller. She is also the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, a non-governmental children’s organization dedicated to upholding the Right to Play for Palestinian children.