By Amanda Mills

    Mum-of-five Mariam El Houli is on a mission to save the world – one book at a time.

    Mariam, 33, from Altona North is no stranger to the cruelty of the world, nor is she ignorant of its blessings. 

    Both have been woven into the story of her first novel, The Olive Tree, which is receiving local and international accolades.

    Mariam grew up in Melbourne’s western suburbs as the eldest of 10 children, but after her father died, the family began to struggle.

    She married at 16 and moved to Lebanon to be with her new husband, experiencing the joy of starting a new life and a new family.

    However, when war broke out in the Middle Eastern country a year later, she and her young family were forced to flee. They returned to Australia and Melbourne’s west.

    Despite still being a teenager, she already had witnessed the extremes of the good and the bad in the world, and in her mind came the start to a story she wanted to tell. 

    “Since the beginning of our existence, stories have been told to start a conversation, entertain, or to prove a point,” she says. 

    “The reality is that our mind is hardwired for stories.

    “Everyone wants to be a part of the story that takes them on an emotional rollercoaster ride, entertains them, and makes them think and reflect.

    “And then that story becomes a part of their existence, the life they are living, and sometimes the decision they are making to live that life.” 

    As her family grew, she studied a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Literature and Composition online at Griffith University.

    It gave her the practical skills to pen The Olive Tree that was named Fiction Book of the Year award at the Authors Book Launch and Expo (ABLE) Awards 2022.

    The novel is the story of Nisma, who like any other 16-year-old goes to school, fights with her brothers, and loves her grandmother. However, when the Islamic Palestinian meets a new friend, Hannah, who is a Zionist, her life changes forever. 

    What unfolds shows Nisma that in a country shrouded by corruption, bigotry and segregation, love and compassion is her best chance at survival.

    “We all have experienced pain, suffering, and loss of our loved ones at some points of time in our life,” Mariam says. 

    “That’s the reality of this world we live in and we can’t run away from this. 

    “So, we find ways to be optimistic about life. 

    “We try to find hope while taking care of our loved ones to make sure we see them happy. 

    “And that’s what this story is all about.”

    Mariam’s writing journey continues, as she is determined to help people change the way they think about family, relationships and life.

    “I have been told that this book is becoming a conversation starter around fascinating human nature, and how we can learn to make our life better during adversity through the story,” she says. 

    To learn more about Mariam El Houli and her writing or to find out where to purchase The Olive Tree, visit:

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