Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples

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Intertwined portraits of courage and hope in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Najmah, a young Afghan girl whose name means "star," suddenly finds herself alone when her father and older brother are conscripted by the Taliban and her mother and newborn brother are killed in an air raid. An American woman, Elaine, whose Islamic name is Nusrat, is also on her own. She waits out the war in Peshawar, Pakistan, teaching refugee children under the persimmon tree in her garden while her Afghan doctor husband runs a clinic in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan.

Najmah's father had always assured her that the stars would take care of her, just as Nusrat's husband had promised that they would tell Nusrat where he was and that he was safe. As the two look to the skies for answers, their fates entwine. Najmah, seeking refuge and hoping to find her father and brother, begins the perilous journey through the mountains to cross the border into Pakistan. And Nusrat's persimmon-tree school awaits Najmah's arrival. Together, they both seek their way home.

Known for her award-winning fiction set in South Asia, Suzanne Fisher Staples revisits that part of the world in this beautifully written, heartrending novel.

Under the Persimmon Tree is a 2006 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.


About Suzanne Fisher Staples

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Suzanne grew up in Pennsylvania, and was a liberal arts major in college. After graduation, she had various jobs, all having something to do with writing and research. Eventually, she landed in Hong Kong, where she became a reporter for United Press International. For six years, Suzanne lived and worked in China, and in 1979, UPI offered Suzanne her own bureau in South Asia. Several extraordinary events happened during her tenure there, including the taking of American hostages in Iran, and the Civil War in Afghanistan. Suzanne also traveled extensively with Indira Gandhi during this time. In 1985, Suzanne went to Pakistan to conduct a study on poor rural woman. It was during this time that she was inspired to write her first children's book, Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind . A sequel to Shabanu , Haveli , soon followed. Currently, Suzanne Fisher Staples lives with her husband, Wayne Harley, in Mount Dora, Florida, where she continues to write.
Published April 1, 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). 305 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Children's Books, Action & Adventure, War, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Under the Persimmon Tree

Kirkus Reviews

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Najmah and Nusrat’s stories collide when Najmah makes her way to Peshawar in search of her family and is taken to Nusrat, the American who teaches refugees under a persimmon tree.

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Publishers Weekly

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Disguised as a boy, Najmah endures a harrowing journey to the edge of Afghanistan, where she parts from her companions to cross the border on her own, determined to find her father and older brother, who have been conscripted by the Taliban army.

Jun 20 2005 | Read Full Review of Under the Persimmon Tree

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