This novel is set in the Syrian civil war, specifically Homs when it was a rebel stronghold under siege. 18 year old Salama is supposed be a pharmacy student, but by force of circumstance spends her days treating people - many of them children - with severe injuries from shelling, bombardment and sniper fire. Katouh skilfully shows that although Salama is traumatised and starving, she is not defined by her suffering. There are moments of beauty, there is tender romance, and there are dreams of a future. As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow is a heartfelt novel that doesn’t shy away from depicting the horrors of a war waged with merciless disregard for civilian life, but which very much celebrates love, survival and hope.
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