Henna HouseHenna House by Nomi Eve

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical fiction

Adela is a young Jewish girl in Yemen in 1920. She has no marriage prospects which is troubling because her father’s health is poor. Any Jewish children whose father dies in Yemen are confiscated and given to Muslim families to raise. The Confiscator has his eye on Adela as a pet for his wife.

When Adela’s uncle, aunt, and cousin arrive from the distant city of Aden, she is taken under their wings and taught about the rituals of henna. When conditions in her town become too difficult, they flee back to Aden but life is becoming difficult for Jews there also.

I had not previously heard the story of the Yemeni Jews in the time surrounding the establishment of Israel.  This is a story of a specific time and a culture trying to decide how to adapt to all the changes around them.

It is also a love story.  Adela is waiting for a boy that she was promised to as a child to give her another layer of protection from confiscation but who she hasn’t seen in years. She doesn’t know if he is alive and is starting to wonder if she should be putting her life on hold for a fantasy.