Five YA Books To Read by Palestinian Authors

These five YA fiction books, written by Palestinian and diaspora authors who transcend the barriers of Western publishing, tell stories of resistance, humanity and hope.

Five YA Books To Read by Palestinian Authors
While these novels and graphic novels were written for a YA audience, they're perfect for adult readers as well.

Literature is a powerful tool to educate, amplify and support. At a time when Palestinian voices are being suppressed, elevating Palestinian stories is more important than ever.

Last week, we at Fann put a special emphasis on fiction books by Palestinian and diaspora authors. This week, we’re spotlighting fictional novels and graphic novels written for young adults. Fiction allows us to see through a new lens, helping us understand the past and imagine a path forward that we might not see otherwise. And while these novels are aimed at young adults, there is no age limit for enjoying and supporting a good book.

These five YA fiction books, written by Palestinian and diaspora authors who transcend the barriers of Western publishing, tell stories of resistance, humanity and hope.

Through literature, we educate ourselves. Through literature, we platform and financially support authors within the Palestinian diaspora.

  1. Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands by Sonia Nimir, translated by Marcia Lynx Qualey

In a historical fantasy tale set in Palestine, Qamr (Moon) and her twin sister Shams (Sun) are born into a family traveling from their mother's city to their father's isolated ancestral village. Facing a curse and suddenly stranded as an orphan, Qamr embarks on a journey inspired by her parents' dreams, armed with the red book that brought her parents together. Qamr tells stories to survive as she travels to various lands, where she encounters adventures, challenges and love.

Much like great 14th century Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta's renowned travel narratives, Sonia Nimr's award-winning novel "Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands" is a feminist fable and captivating historical adventure.

  1. Mis(h)Adra by Iasmin Omar Ata

In a striking and emotionally raw graphic novel, an Arab American college student grapples with epilepsy. Isaac's life is a constant battle to manage his seizures while maintaining a normal student routine, but nothing seems to work — not even his medication. With doctors who won't listen, mounting schoolwork and a family in denial, Isaac's life unravels, leaving him increasingly isolated. Even with a new friend, he wonders if he can ever conquer his epilepsy.

"Mis(h)adra" vividly portrays the daily challenges of living with epilepsy, drawing from the author's own experiences with this often misunderstood condition.

  1. Ida in the Middle by Nora Lester Murad

Ida, a young Palestinian American girl, experiences the burden of being blamed for Middle East conflicts due to her heritage. She is forced to change schools in the 8th grade to avoid harassment, but she continues to be treated like she’ll never fit in.

One day, Ida discovers a jar of olives that came from a beloved aunt in her family's village near Jerusalem. Ida’s life takes an unexpected turn when she consumes a magical olive that transports her to her family's village near Jerusalem, just as if her parents had never left Palestine. In this alternate reality, Ida grapples with the question of her true identity and place. As Israeli bulldozers threaten her family's village, she faces a critical choice.

“Ida in the Middle” is a powerful coming-of-age narrative for younger YA readers that explores themes of identity, belonging and voice.

  1. Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq

"Baddawi" tells the story of a young boy named Ahmad, who grapples with finding his identity and purpose. He grows up in the Baddawi refugee camp in northern Lebanon, alongside thousands of other Palestinians who were displaced from their homeland in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

This visually captivating graphic novel, created by Leila Abdelrazaq, offers a glimpse into her father's childhood during the 1960s and '70s. The story is narrated from a child's perspective, as Ahmad witnesses the challenges and upheaval in his world. Despite the pervasive uncertainty and adversity, he strives to carve out his own path in life.

  1. Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith

Divya, known as D1V in the gaming world, leads her group in the popular game “Reclaim the Sun” and uses her gaming success to support her struggling mom. Aaron is a dedicated gamer and aspiring developer who uses “Reclaim the Sun” to escape from his mother's expectations of him following her path into the medical career. The last person Aaron expects to bond with in the game is celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other. As they navigate both their personal challenges and the virtual world, Divya and Aaron face a rising group of online trolls. These trolls escalate their harassment by launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron's dreams and Divya's safety. But Divya refuses to be driven out of the game and is willing to fight to protect what's important to her.