Sadness Is a White Bird

Sadness Is a White Bird

In this lyrical and searing debut novel written by a rising literary star and MacDowell Fellow, a young man is preparing to serve in the Israeli army while also trying to reconcile his close relationship to two Palestinian siblings with his deeply ingrained loyalties to family and country.The story begins in an Israeli military jail, where — four days after his nineteenth...

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Title:Sadness Is a White Bird
Author:Moriel Rothman-Zecher
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Sadness Is a White Bird Reviews

  • Esil

    A very enthusiastic 5 stars!!! This will definitely be one of my favourite novels this year. Sadness Is a White Bird is set in Israel and starts in an jail where 19 year old Jonathan is being detained. Jonathan tells his own story in the form of a lyrical narrative told to his friend Laith. Jonathan is Jewish and Laith is Palestinian. With this premise, this novel does everything a good novel is supposed to do:

    -I loved how Rothman-Zecher tackles such a fraught political and historical context he

    A very enthusiastic 5 stars!!! This will definitely be one of my favourite novels this year. Sadness Is a White Bird is set in Israel and starts in an jail where 19 year old Jonathan is being detained. Jonathan tells his own story in the form of a lyrical narrative told to his friend Laith. Jonathan is Jewish and Laith is Palestinian. With this premise, this novel does everything a good novel is supposed to do:

    -I loved how Rothman-Zecher tackles such a fraught political and historical context head on. Jonathan's own family history includes some brutal anti-Semitic losses in Greece and in the Holocaust, while Laith's family has also been brutalized by the Israeli army. With this background and in the face of Jonathan's impending military service, Jonathan, Laith and his twin sister Nimreen forge a complicated friendship.

    -I loved how Rothman-Zecher evokes what felt like real powerful emotions. Jonathan is young and his emotions have the rawness that comes with youth, but there is no gratuitous melodrama.

    -I loved the interactions between Jonathan and other characters, especially with Laith and his twin Nimreen -- lots of smart original dialogue, including the extremes of humour and harshness.

    -I loved the writing. There is no fluff here, but Rothman-Zecher manages to be both direct and very creative in his use of language, time lines and points of view.

    -And I loved where I felt Rothman-Zecher was trying to take me politically and emotionally. I just finished reading Hillary Clinton's new memoir,

    . She ends by calling for "deep empathy" -- for people to work hard to understand and connect with people who are different from themselves and have different beliefs. It's not dissimilar from the message I got recently reading Van Jones'

    and

    . Coming from a bicultural home in Canada, it's a message that really resonates with me. Sadness Is a White Bird read like a beautiful, powerful and painful call for deep empathy.

    Rothman-Zecher is ridiculously talented. I can't wait to see what he writes next.

    Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy. Thanks also to Angela and Diane for another excellent buddy read!

  • Angela M

    When I started to read this story about a young Israeli man who develops a close relationship with a Palestinian brother and sister, it reminded me of a book I read this year, All the Rivers . That one is about an Israeli woman and Palestinian young man who are living in New York and fall in love . Both of these books reflect on the difficulty of deeply emotional relationships charged with the current political and historical reality of the conflict. This beautifully written story begins with Jo

    When I started to read this story about a young Israeli man who develops a close relationship with a Palestinian brother and sister, it reminded me of a book I read this year, All the Rivers . That one is about an Israeli woman and Palestinian young man who are living in New York and fall in love . Both of these books reflect on the difficulty of deeply emotional relationships charged with the current political and historical reality of the conflict. This beautifully written story begins with Jonathan who has recently joined the Israeli army, but now he sits in prison. He speaks to Laith, his Palestinian friend, almost a love letter, trying to make sense out of what has happened. Through flashbacks, this introspective and truly intimate narrative reveals not just the complex and brutally honest connections between Jonathan, Laith and his twin sister Nimreen , but their family histories and horrific experiences of their grandparents. Both of these stories are heart wrenching and they in so many ways represent how torn Jonathan is - wanting to serve, to represent his heritage and at the same time not wanting to harm innocent people. The pain he feels as he is torn between his duty to serve, his feelings for his grandfather, especially after his trip to Greece, and his love of Nimreen and Laith is palatable.

    I loved that Nimreen and Laithe try to list for Jonathan the twenty six Arabic synonyms for love, one of which is Al-Jouah, "love that leaves you with a feeling of, like, deep sadness." That deep sadness is the feeling I was left with. I wish I could say that I found answers here. I didn't. What I did find was a powerful and thought provoking story filled with deep friendships, love and compassion, a story that I highly recommend.

    Thanks to my Goodreads friends Diane and Esil for another fantastic read together.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Atria Books through NetGalley.

  • Diane S ☔

    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 f

    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 whole. 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.

  • Elyse

    Extraordinary! I had started this book 2 days ago...a day after having surgery....loved it immediately...but between lots of extra sleep - it wasn’t until today, when I read most of it in a final sweep sitting. For those whom I owe messages to - forgive me — this novel became impossible to put down.

    We know Jonathan is in an Israeli military jail at the start of this novel.....

    This story absolutely takes your breath away - so incredibly well written -

    Many of my own memories came rushing back to

    Extraordinary! I had started this book 2 days ago...a day after having surgery....loved it immediately...but between lots of extra sleep - it wasn’t until today, when I read most of it in a final sweep sitting. For those whom I owe messages to - forgive me — this novel became impossible to put down.

    We know Jonathan is in an Israeli military jail at the start of this novel.....

    This story absolutely takes your breath away - so incredibly well written -

    Many of my own memories came rushing back to me when I was young and foolish hitchhiking in Israel with my Israeli boyfriend - who asked me to marry him - ( I said no)...and a group of friends - going up into the mountains in places where Palestinians lived. We took pictures of families living in tents...remembering risks ....and crazy fun days.....also remembering when I studied at the University of Haifa.

    But this book does something soooo brilliant- the best I’ve ever read -about a soldier questioning his heritage, his loyalty to his tribe.

    It’s SO PERSONAL and REAL.....I LOVED IT!

    The characters - the relationships - and the dialogue create such crystalline truth that our hearts ache!!! Fridays in this book will never be forgotten.

    “We did see each other the next Friday, Laith, and the Friday after that, and the one after that, until it became a quasireligious ritual that none of us atheistic wanted to desecrate. Almost every Friday night for the next eight months. These Friday nights

    with you and Nimreen became the highlight of my weeks, surpassing even the late evenings with Avichai and Rinat and the others, where our conversations focused more and more around our upcoming draft dates”.

    There was something very special between Jonathan,(or called Yonatan), and twins, Laith and Nimreen. Jonathan kept his Fridays —and friendship with the two siblings from his other friends for a long time.

    As to whether or not Jonathan‘s secrecy was precautionary having the foresight to see that ugliness could arise given that they were Palestinian and he a Jew..... or if he was fooling himself into believing that if he kept the two worlds separate then he might never have to choose between the two.....was the tightrope he walked.

    On those Fridays the three of them laughed constantly, smoked at least a kilogram of marijuana, enjoyed the beaches, sometimes they went to Brit al-Asal, to the Twins family’s house. Another time they had lunch at his family‘s place in Pardes Ya’akov— but much of the time they just wandered.... hitchhiking.....having so much fun taking care of each other.

    Laith and Nimreen were well on their way to making Yonatan an honorary Palestinian.

    Jonathan thought about how his friends or grandfather- Saba Yehuda -would react if they knew that Jonathan felt complemented, validated, and elated to be part of the siblings world. Another part of him felt strange and bad. He was not a Palestinian. He also didn’t actually want to become one.

    Saying much more - as to what happened - and why Jonathan is in prison would be too much of a spoiler.

    Definitely one of the best books out this year....political upheaval has never felt more in your face.

  • Cheri

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    When we’re young, we see all the things we want to change, believing those changes to be easy to accomplish. We find, define our own idea of beauty, we find, define the idea of what we want our “home” to be like, to feel like, a place where our values are part of our lives, our days, where we find acceptance of those values among those we love. Living in harmony. Finding forgiveness from others, from ourselves – hopefully, ultimately – for those we’ve hurt, offended. If we’re

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    When we’re young, we see all the things we want to change, believing those changes to be easy to accomplish. We find, define our own idea of beauty, we find, define the idea of what we want our “home” to be like, to feel like, a place where our values are part of our lives, our days, where we find acceptance of those values among those we love. Living in harmony. Finding forgiveness from others, from ourselves – hopefully, ultimately – for those we’ve hurt, offended. If we’re lucky, we find love, and build upon that love so that it lasts a lifetime.

    This story is told through letters written by Jonathan, who spent some of his youth in America, but returns to Israel where his grandfather, who lived through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, convinces him of the honor and duty inherent in serving Israel. Led by the words of his grandfather, Jonathan becomes devoted to his grandfather’s dreams of recapturing some of that which he lost when they were forced to leave Palestine. At the same time he is befriending twins Laith and Nimreen, Palestinian Arabs.

    “Through the corridors of sleep

    Past the shadows dark and deep

    My mind dances and leaps in confusion.

    I don't know what is real,

    I can't touch what I feel

    And I hide behind the shield of my illusion.

    So I'll continue to continue to pretend

    My life will never end,

    And Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall.”

    -- Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall – lyrics by Paul Simon

    Laith and his twin sister, Nimreen, became his voices of the other side of the political divide, although not in the beginning, but as time goes by the friendship becomes strained. Loving someone whose ideologies are so far apart complicates their relationships, Jonathan is convinced he is right to follow the plan his grandfather had outlined for him for so many years, and Laith and Nimreen are equally convinced of their view being right.

    “The mirror on my wall

    Casts an image dark and small

    But I'm not sure at all it's my reflection.

    I am blinded by the light

    Of God and truth and right

    And I wander in the night without direction.

    So I'll continue to continue to pretend

    My life will never end,

    And Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall.”

    -- Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall – lyrics by Paul Simon

    Through these letters, thoughts, journal entries, he writes to Laith, recalling memories of times long ago to this friend he feels he’s lost along the way, sharing his thoughts and feelings. The setting, as he writes this, is in an Iranian military jail cell, four days after his nineteenth birthday. The story of how he came to be there, of everything that precedes this, everything that led to this point in time told in flashbacks of time.

    "It's no matter if you're born

    To play the King or pawn

    For the line is thinly drawn 'tween joy and sorrow,

    So my fantasy

    Becomes reality,

    And I must be what I must be and face tomorrow.

    So I'll continue to continue to pretend

    My life will never end,

    And Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall"

    -- Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall – lyrics by Paul Simon

    I loved the inclusion of some lines from the poem that the title of this book is based on, “A Soldier Dreams of White Tulips” by Mahmoud Darwish, and another poem, “My Mother Baked the Whole World for Me“ by Yehuda Amichai. I loved that it included the fact that there are 26 words for love in Arabic, including ‘Al-Jouah,’ a “love that leaves you with a feeling of, like, deep sadness,” now I have a word for what I feel after reading this amazingly lovely, yet incredibly sad story.

    A beautifully rendered, poignant story, part coming-of-age, partly a story that shows the ravages of war on those carrying out the orders of those waging it, the idealism behind the scene, and the devastation - physical, mental and emotional - of actually being in the battle. This is also, in part, a love story, but certainly not your average love story.

    Pub Date: 13 Feb 2018

    Many thanks for the ARC provided by Atria Books

  • Larry H

    Oh, wow, this book was so gorgeous and moving and amazing! (Sorry I'm not more enthusiastic about it.)

    Jonathan has just turned 19 and is serving in the Israeli army, a responsibility he has taken very seriously. Yet when

    begins, Jonathan is in a military prison, telling his story as a letter of sorts to one of his best friends. But how did someone so eager to serve his country wind up in prison, doubting whether military action against the Arabs is the right thing to do

    Oh, wow, this book was so gorgeous and moving and amazing! (Sorry I'm not more enthusiastic about it.)

    Jonathan has just turned 19 and is serving in the Israeli army, a responsibility he has taken very seriously. Yet when

    begins, Jonathan is in a military prison, telling his story as a letter of sorts to one of his best friends. But how did someone so eager to serve his country wind up in prison, doubting whether military action against the Arabs is the right thing to do?

    Although he was born in Israel, Jonathan and his family lived in Pennsylvania for a number of years before he persuaded them to return to their homeland so he could serve in the army, as required of all Israeli citizens. Jonathan's grandfather, who was from the Greek city of Salonica (also known as Thessaloniki), saw his entire community wiped out by the Holocaust, and through his sorrow, played a role in the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948, so Jonathan sees military service as a family inheritance.

    When he meets brother and sister Laith and Nimreen, twin children of one of his mother's Palestinian friends, the three become immediately inseparable. Through their weekly adventures, they talk, share poems (and joints), and Jonathan begins to see what life in Israel is like for Arabs. While his first reaction is to defend his country's efforts to protect itself from militant Arabs, Nimreen and Laith try to explain Palestinians' allegiance to the same country, yet view their treatment by Israelis as persecution not protection. It's not long before Jonathan wonders if he really believes in the country he will be defending, whether it is possible to love your country yet question its motives at the same time.

    The story weaves back and forth between Jonathan's time with Nimreen and Laith and the growing love he has for both of him, and his time in the military, leading up to the actions which land him in prison. Nimreen and Laith don't understand why Jonathan is still so adamant about serving in the military when he has begun to see that blind allegiance is not the only path, and it strains their relationship. Jonathan is torn between pride in his country and the comradeship he finds in the army, and knowing one day he may come in direct conflict with people dear to Laith and Nimreen.

    This is an absolutely beautiful and poignant book, in part a coming-of-age novel, in part a story of self-discovery, as well as a story about how our idealism and naivete change as we grow older. This is a story about longing and belonging, about how sometimes there is a gap between what is expected and what is right. Moriel Rothman-Zecher does such a wonderful job taking you along Jonathan's path of self-discovery, feeling the things he feels, and he keeps you in suspense as to why he is in prison, and whether the letter he is writing will ever reach its intended audience.

    I absolutely loved this book and found it very surprising at times. The characters are so memorable, and Rothman-Zecher's storytelling is so lyrical and beautiful. It will be some time before I get this one out of my head, not that I want to. My thanks to Esil, Diane S, and Angela M, whose reviews made me request this from NetGalley instantly!!

    NetGalley and Atria Books provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

    See all of my reviews at

    .

  • Jen

    This one was super intense; emotionally conflicting and one story I soon won't forget.

    The story begins with Jonathan in jail and reflecting on his great love for his friends Nimreen and Laith. Brother and sister. Jonathan is completing his final year of highschool in Israel when he meets them. He develops a complicated relationship with them - he being Jewish; they being Arab.

    There is no doubt a political angle to this book but it's interesting given the limited history I have of the strife tha

    This one was super intense; emotionally conflicting and one story I soon won't forget.

    The story begins with Jonathan in jail and reflecting on his great love for his friends Nimreen and Laith. Brother and sister. Jonathan is completing his final year of highschool in Israel when he meets them. He develops a complicated relationship with them - he being Jewish; they being Arab.

    There is no doubt a political angle to this book but it's interesting given the limited history I have of the strife that has taken place there and continues. The relationship and the moral struggle is what captivated the story and made it real and forbidden when he joins the army and experiences what it means to fight for your country; your people; but still hold in onto the memories of friends who will leave a mark on your heart.The emotional torture of knowing what's right but knowing it's not always a choice.

    Lyrical in prose lending an almost romantic slant in a very harsh climate, culture.

    4.25⭐️

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    Jonathan is 19 years old and preparing to serve in the Israeli army when he befriends Palestinian twins, Laith and Nimreen. As the story begins, Jonathan is in jail, and his story is told through letters to Laith. The second person narrative was refreshing.

    Through Jonathan’s friendship with Laith and Nimreen, he begins a journey of self-discovery and coming-of-age where his emotions give rise to conflict within him about serving in the

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    Jonathan is 19 years old and preparing to serve in the Israeli army when he befriends Palestinian twins, Laith and Nimreen. As the story begins, Jonathan is in jail, and his story is told through letters to Laith. The second person narrative was refreshing.

    Through Jonathan’s friendship with Laith and Nimreen, he begins a journey of self-discovery and coming-of-age where his emotions give rise to conflict within him about serving in the army.

    This book was short and full of meaning. The message on conflict resonated with me because, generally speaking, sometimes we think we are on the right side of the conflict, but there’s always another side and many more voices to be heard. Some of the imagery at the end gave me chills.

    Interestingly, in the audio, the passages in different languages were not included, so I did not experience that possible disconnection from the story that I’ve read about in reviews. The narrator added to the story. His voice was eerie and foreboding.

    Sadness is a White Bird is a novel of friendship and full-bodied emotion. The author’s language is lyrical without being over-done. The emotions of the characters are transparent.

    Thanks to many, many of my GR friends for the recommendation to read this thought-provoking book. This was a Traveling Sister Read, and for the combined Sister Review, please visit Brenda and Norma’s blog:

  • Debbie

    Okay. So apparently I’m a person who holds a grudge. I realize a grudge makes me pretty huffy and grumpy, so I was sitting there annoyed as hell at the situation—mad at both the book and my snit. Grudges are uncool and they can ruin things.

    I was dying to read this book, as my friends had chirped and chirped about it, flying around my To Be Read shelf, persuading me to grab this one next. “Oh goodie!” I chirped back. I’m on it.

    And right away, the lyrical language, the intriguing

    Okay. So apparently I’m a person who holds a grudge. I realize a grudge makes me pretty huffy and grumpy, so I was sitting there annoyed as hell at the situation—mad at both the book and my snit. Grudges are uncool and they can ruin things.

    I was dying to read this book, as my friends had chirped and chirped about it, flying around my To Be Read shelf, persuading me to grab this one next. “Oh goodie!” I chirped back. I’m on it.

    And right away, the lyrical language, the intriguing hero, the first-person narration, the tone, the prison setting—all of this grabbed me, and I was all smiles and strut. Just look at that Joy Jar!

    Wait a minute, all of the sudden there were long Hebrew and Arabic conversations. Sure, everything was translated, but all of these secret sentences were a total distraction, plus they broke up the cool flow, the cool rhythm.

    I like to look at words, folks. I like to swallow them and wallow in them. But it’s a no-brainer that I have to

    the words, otherwise they get caught in my throat, useless and prickly. And of course I didn’t understand the Hebrew and Arabic words. Why so many sentences in other languages? The fact that there were two languages made it harder, translations coming fast, back and forth, as conversations in two languages took place. Total confusion for me.

    I knew I’d never remember one single word, so my reading enjoyment went right out the window. Tons of sentences full of letter combos that made no sense. As the foreign phrases multiplied like a virus, I found myself getting really pissed. It started to ruin the story for me. I realize that the author was going for authenticity, but the story was plenty authentic without it. And then my grudge started. Oh I was stubborn in my pissed-ness. I wanted to scream “Stop it! English, please!” I want words that I can understand, without the interruption of lines of translation.

    So every time a foreign sentence appeared, I steamed. I lived for the English sentences, the flow that charmed me. I would look at upcoming pages and my mood would be affected by whether I could see foreign words or not. OMG, I realized that I was holding a grudge! I didn't want to forgive the author for what he had done to me. Nope, I refuse to be pulled into this wonderful story, so there!

    But you know what? Miraculously, as I got more and more seduced by the story (which happened relatively fast), my grudge disappeared. Maybe the author cut back on the Hebrew and Arabic dialogue, or maybe I just didn’t even see it anymore. I was so relieved that I had ditched the grudge! I felt like I had become a grown-up, I had matured, had settled down like a good citizen, a good reader. Personal growth and all that, lol.

    Oops. I better tell you what the book is about and delve deeper into that overstuffed Joy Jar, before I tell you about the other item on my Complaint Board (because yes, I’m sad to say there is yet another gripe, and it’s a two-parter!).

    This is a modern coming-of-age story set in Israel. It’s about a young Jewish guy, Jonathan, who falls in love with Arab twins, a young woman and man. Jonathan ends up in a military prison, and it’s from his cell that he talks in his head to his Arab lovers, reviewing their intense relationship, reminiscing about the good old days, thinking about stories they had passed around, and explaining his struggles (understatement) and how he ended up in military prison.

    Before I return to the dreaded Complaint Board, let me tell you that the Joy Jar is filled to the brim. Actually it’s overflowing.

    I know I’m repeating myself, but I need to make it clear that there is more joy than whine in my feelings about this book. The characters, the setting, the tone, the pace, the plot, the climax, the first-person voice—all just beauteous. This writer is a great storyteller.

    What we have here are gorgeous sentences, lyrical and rich. This author definitely knows how to seduce you with words. (I’m sitting on my hands: I would love to let you see some of the sentences, but I can’t because I read an advance copy and I’m not supposed to quote.)

    It’s always magic when the characters are so well portrayed that their emotions, both what they feel inside and what they show outside, are explosive, and you totally buy it. This guy Jonathan, oh he is so verklempt, and with good reason. I loved this conflicted, morally complex character.

    In real life, tension is so bad, but in a book, it’s soooo good! Because there are two worlds here, that of the Jews and that of the Arabs, that are fighting over land, there is always underlying tension between this group of three lover-friends. It’s palpable, and though it made me unchy—their intense and sometimes strained conversations, their trips together through a war-torn land—it kept me completely hooked. Will they get through checkpoints? Is it really a good idea to hitchhike together? Will they be able to stay friends? Stuff like that. Oh, if that rubber band breaks. . . .

    The last part of the book is electric; all boldface exclamation marks

    There’s an event that is so powerful, so full of emotion and tension, it blew my mind. There’s also a juicy twist at the end.

    Okay, I’m sad to have to go back to the

    but I can’t just ignore it, can I? This naggy-saggy gripe sort of breaks down into two parts:

    This was somewhat of a message book, which is a huge minus for me. I don’t like it when there seems to be an agenda to teach me a thing or two. I find it pedantic, condescending, and distracting (in that it moves away from plot). This happens both in conversations and in old war stories about relatives who have suffered. The stories did affect the main character’s outlook and actions, so in that way, they were useful and pertinent. For me, though, they seemed lecture-y. Luckily, the message-y part wasn’t loud, plus it served a purpose (affecting the main character), so it did not ruin the story for me.

    The book was too political for me. My eyes tend to glaze over when military history is the deal. Still, the story was so riveting I didn’t much care.

    So yes, I’m a big whiner. This isn’t news. I have to say, though, that all of these complaints do not override the power of this novel, no way. The main character is morally complex, and I just love it when a book is about conscience. And it made me think about conflict and how it hurts, about loyalty and love, about the atrocities of war, about fear and fearlessness, about the innocence of youth.

    It’s an amazing and brilliant book that is a 2017 favorite. I’m so very glad my friends chirped. A special thanks to Esil, whose chirp was in the form of a recommendation sent my way.

    (By the way, I love the cover. And once you read the book, you’ll see that it has a lot of meaning.)

    Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

    (a few days after original post): Note that this book does have a slant. I avoided mentioning it because I didn’t want to get into political discussions (and I still don’t) about a conflict that I know nothing about. Also, I doubted whether my perception of a slant was accurate. But a trusted friend confirmed that there IS a clear agenda here, so I decided to add this to my review. Meanwhile, as I was reading, I wasn’t buying all of what was being put forth as fact, or enjoying the angry parts, because I could see there was an agenda (it makes me super uncomfortable when someone tries to push their personal political beliefs). Instead, I concentrated on the emotional impact of the story. What I liked about the book was how morally complex and sympathetic the main character was, and how the book fares in terms of its worth as fiction, and that gets high scores. I just want to escape into a fictional world, folks, especially in these times. The political agenda was a turn-off.

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