Continuing where her critically acclaimed memoir Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood (2007) ends, Ibtisam Barakat shares stories of growing up during the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from 1971 to 1981. Balcony on the Moon succeeds in creating a vivid picture of normal family life, but “normal” for Barakat means moving frequently because of war, loving her Islamic religion and experiencing familial conflict due to lack of opportunities in Israeli-occupied territories. Through Barakat’s search for what it means to be Palestinian, readers see her learn, grow and change.
Many people think it is aayb, shameful, when Barakat’s mother becomes a student and attends a co-ed school. Within this culture’s strict familial code, a certain type of commitment is necessary if a person wishes to pursue a dream, and Barakat experiences similar difficulties due to her strong belief in education.
Barakat’s memoir weaves a balance between the personal, public and political aspects of coming of age in a war-strafed region. A hopeful writer from a young age, Barakat kept journals all her life, and material from these young musings provides a rich storehouse of scenes, memories and details that make the story strum with authenticity. Sprinkled throughout are Arabic words with English equivalents, adding to the story’s sense of reality.
The original version of this review inaccurately transliterated the Arabic word for "shameful." We regret the error.