cover image The Lover

The Lover

Rebecca Sacks. Harper, $28.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-328423-4

The heroine of Sacks’s poignant second novel (after City of a Thousand Gates) revisits a summer romance with longing and the wisdom of hindsight. Allison, 35 and pregnant, discovers a dusty box while cleaning her Tel Aviv apartment. Its contents, which are revealed later in the narrative, trigger memories of an intense and emotionally complex relationship she had before she was married to her husband, Timor. Allison meets Eyal on a bus when she is 27, a graduate student about to return home to Canada after a semester in Israel, and he’s a 19-year-old soldier in uniform and holding a rifle. Both, at this point, have come to accept the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a part of their daily lives. Eyal’s closeness to his family prompts Allison to reconnect with her sister Erica, from whom she is somewhat estranged. Cultural differences and the age gap between the lovers also impact the relationship, and Sacks renders it all in sensual prose, as in this description of Eyal’s first impression of Allison: “So sweet, so out of place. That’s exactly what he wishes to be: out of place, out of here. Not part of the scenery but a person moving through it.” It adds up to a tender, affecting portrait of a bygone love. (Aug.)