A book review! There are some books I read that I really enjoy, and I want to recommend them to people, but I have very little to say about them, other than “that book’s really good“. Then there are others that I really want to talk about, that get under my skin so I can’t put then down and can’t stop thinking about them – the story, the characters, the words.
This book is one of those.
At it’s heart, it’s a love story. A young couple – students, Noa and Amir – move into their first flat together. Their love is heady, exciting, they fall into bed at every opportunity. Then gradually the flat begins to feel too small, they each become too involved in their own problems (such as Noa, a photography student with the art equivalent of writer’s block) and they begin to niggle at each other, their love begins to dissolve.
It’s not just the story of this young couple though, it’s also the story of another couple, similar age but married for several years and with two children, it’s the story of a young boy who’s brother has died, and told through letters written from South America, the story of a young Israeli man travelling.
The theme of love runs deep through all the different, interlinking stories, together with the theme of longing – all the characters are longing for something, some specific, some still unknown and the book contains some important themes – religion, mental illness, terrorism, and the simple desire of one Palestinian man to enter the home he grew up in.
It’s a fantastic story. But what made it really special for me was the quality of the writing. It twists and turns from different points of view, sometimes in third person, sometimes an inner monologue, allowing you to see one moment from several different character’s points of view, allowing you to really get into the characters, to get to know them for all their flaws.
And I loved the descriptions of the relationships. Sinking into a hug with the husband you love: “I could feel again how much he’s mine and how much I’m his, and I let that feeling spread through my body like hot chocolate”.
And the rising angst between Amir and Noa is described as buzzing: “just a buzzing that got stronger until now we have to cover our ears with our hands and there’s nothing left to hug with”.
It’s just a fantastic description of that feeling you get sometimes where nothing specific is wrong, but everything’s slightly annoying!!
I’ll say little more cos it’s a fantastic book that you all should read but I especially loved this thought on contemplating a break-up:
“and then I thought ‘Where is Noa now? And what will I do with all these thoughts I’m so used to sharing with her?'”