A love letter to Syria and its people, As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow is a speculative novel set amid the Syrian Revolution, burning with the fires of hope, love, and possibility. Perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Salt to the Sea.
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 had a normal teenager’s life.
Now Salama volunteers at a hospital in Homs, helping the wounded who flood through the doors daily. Secretly, though, she is desperate to find a way out of her beloved country before her sister-in-law, Layla, gives birth. So desperate, that she has manifested a physical embodiment of her fear in the form of her imagined companion, Khawf, who haunts her every move in an effort to keep her safe.
But even with Khawf pressing her to leave, Salama is torn between her loyalty to her country and her conviction to survive. Salama must contend with bullets and bombs, military assaults, and her shifting sense of morality before she might finally breathe free. And when she crosses paths with the boy she was supposed to meet one 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.
Katouh's powerful debut, a speculative novel set amid the Syrian Revolution, follows one Syrian 17-year-old's struggles balancing duty to her country and to herself. Before the Arab Spring, Salama Kassab dreamed of studying herbology, becoming a pharmacist, and traveling the world. Now, a year after the 2011 uprising, she's volunteering as a de facto surgeon at her local hospital, tending to those wounded in the violence surrounding them. Following Mama's death and the military arrests of Baba and her brother, Salama cares for her pregnant sister-in-law, Layla, who wants Salama to arrange them both passage on a boat to Germany. But Salama's hesitancy to flee her country in its time of need, coupled with a budding relationship with Kenan Aljendi, whom she met after treating his younger sister, leaves her feeling unmoored. Her trauma manifests into a PTSD-induced hallucinatory companion named Khawf, who dispenses advice and forces her to examine her responsibilities to Layla, Kenan, herself, and Syria. Katouh's lyrical prose, combined with a moving portrayal of first love, unflinchingly depicts both the costs of revolution, and the strength it takes to fight for one's beliefs. Ages 14–up. Agent: Alexandra Levick, Writers House.