Once in a while if we as readers are lucky, pick up a book that effects us profoundly. For me, it was this book, I kept putting it down, to think about what I was reading, and yes even to let my emotions level out. The subject is a complicated one, Jewish and Arab relations in Isreal, but the author gives us a personal viewpoint, using three friends, two Arab, one Jewish. When the book opens, Jonathan sits in a jail, he is our narrator and their story is revealed as Jonathan writes to his Arab friend, Laith.
Using a letter, we are privvy to Jonathan's most personal thoughts and experiences, essentially placed inside his mind. His conflicted thoughts, as now shortly after his nineteenth birthday, he is in the military, something all Isrealis of this age must do, but can't figure out where his loyalties lie. Do they like with the country he has sworn to protect, his grandfather insists the Jewish people are his family and that is all he needs to consider. What about his derp friendships, love for Laith and his twin sister? Where does this fit in, and how can he fight against a people who he can't hate. Learning the back stories of his own grandfather and the grandmother of the twins, leads him to only more doubt.
As far as novels go this is short in pages, but large in content. It is powerful and intense. The author presents all sides in this conflict, and it is these many sides that Jonathan tries to solidify into a cohesive hole. It is a novel of a deep friendship, and a young man who feels greatly. I sometimes wonder what would happen if the young people on both sides of this conflict, well any conflict really, put down their guns and refused to fight any longer. No longer wanting to watch their friends die, their families and countries torn apart. Just said no more to following leaders blindly. It will never happen, but wouldn't it be wonderful if it did?
Another read with Angela and Esil, this book probably the best one we have read together. I cherish these reads and the thoughts we share.
ARC from Edelweiss.