I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on September 15, 2022
ISBN: 9781526648501
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Social Themes, Grief, General, Mental Illness, Friendship, Young Adult, Love & Romance, Juvenile Nonfiction, Social Topics, History, Military & Wars
Pages: 443
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
five stars - As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh - REVIEW

Burning with the fires of hope and possibility, AS LONG AS THE LEMON TREES GROW will sweep you up and never let you go.
Salama Kassab was a pharmacy student when the cries for freedom broke out in Syria. She still had her parents and her big brother; she still had her home. She was even supposed to be meeting a boy to talk about marriage.
Now Salama volunteers at a hospital in Homs, helping the wounded who flood through the doors. She knows that she should be thinking about leaving, but who will help the people of her beloved country if she doesn't? With her heart so conflicted, her mind has conjured a vision to spur her to action. His name is Khawf, and he haunts her nights with hallucinations of everything she has lost.
But even with Khawf pressing her to leave, when she crosses paths with Kenan, the boy she was supposed to meet on that fateful day, she starts to doubt her resolve in leaving home at all. Soon, Salama must learn to see the events around her for what they truly are-not a war, but a revolution-and decide how she, too, will cry for Syria's freedom.

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow is a title that truly deserves book of the year. A compelling story that is incredibly important. Raw, visceral, wrenching and revelatory.

Have you ever read a book so powerful that you couldn’t find the words to describe just how impactful and an important narrative that it pushes upon you? That’s exactly how I feel with As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow. I always think it’s a good thing to read outside your usual boundaries – YA isn’t usually my bag but with this cover and the heartbreakingly powerful story, I couldn’t resist. A story of survival in war torn Syria, I turned the pages through blurred vision, the writing made me aware of the plight of a country that is proud of its origins. I need to read more stories in this genre.

“For now, this flag is our shield against the cold winters, the bombs falling from the sky, and the bullets that tear into our bodies. In death it’s our shroud, our corpses swaddled in it as we return to the soil we vowed to protect.”

My guts and nerves were in shreds by the end of this stunningly beautiful story. You know you have a talented writer in front of you when they leave you feeling wrung out from the emotions pouring from you.

Three shrivelled lemons and a mouldy pitta bread – that’s the image that is imprinted into your mind with the opening sentence. Just sit for a moment and imagine that that’s the only thing to be found in your local supermarket. The panic, the worry, how can you feed your family when that’s the only thing available? You can’t. The onslaught on war and revolution surrounds eighteen-year-old Salama Kassub, a Pharmacology student, she has no choice but to serve as a doctor because very few remain – they are either dead or they’ve fled their homeland of Syria. She feels completely out of her depth, she’d never been trained to cut people open to stop the flow of internal bleeding or amputate limbs. She’s only eighteen, sometimes you have to keep reminding yourself of that fact. She’s ill equipped to deal with the true face of war – children and the elderly with fatal wounds, it’s not how her life was supposed to go – she wanted a good career, a nice husband, and children.

Salama has to make a huge decision. Along with her responsibilities as a doctor she must decide what’s best for her pregnant sister-in-law, Layla. It’s not safe here for a pregnant women and so they makes plans to escape to Germany. The only problem being the cost to get a boat from Syria. There’s individuals who will take use the situation to gain financially. It’s going to cost 4k, but they don’t have that amount of money left. What are they going to do? She also sees a spectre called Khawf, someone that she can only see, someone who reminds her of the right path. Someone that frustrates the hell out of her.

Although the story is heartbreakingly devastating there is a ribbon of hope pulling the pages together – a light-hearted romance between Salama and Kenan – the boy she was meant to be betrothed to before the revolution exploded. A boy who makes her see another way.


image 5 - As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh - REVIEW

Zoulfa Katouh is the author of AS LONG AS THE LEMON TREES GROW, a YA speculative contemporary. She is a pharmacist, currently pursuing a master’s in Drug Sciences. When she’s not talking to herself in the woodland forest, she spends her time baking aesthetic cookies and cakes while listening to BTS songs.

Zoulfa Katouh

five stars - As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh - REVIEW