The People of Forever Are Not Afraid

Shani Boianjiu. Random/Hogarth, $24 (352p) ISBN 978-0-307-95595-1
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Here’s what we all know about Israel: it’s constantly preparing for war, fighting a war, and recovering from war. And everyone, male or female (except the ultra-Orthodox), serves in the Israeli Defense Forces. Here’s what we probably don’t know, and what Boianjiu’s impressive debut gives us some inkling of: what it’s like to be a teenage girl in the army. Yael, Avishag, and Lea, who grew up together in a tiny town built on the Israel-Lebanon border to “jewdify the Galilee,” join up in time for the 2006 war with Lebanon. They train men to shoot, do guard duty, and work on a checkpoint: their days are boring, funny, occasionally dangerous, and frequently surreal. Sometimes the three girls blur together, but mostly Boianjiu’s in control of what she wants to blur. Her POV shifts and rapid-fire language reflect the ongoing merger of ordinary life and PTSD and how the heightened awareness of a country on permanent alert turns into a kind of moral slackness, with results that range from inconsequential to horrifying. If at times we aren’t sure whether to believe some of the more extreme details, that blur—between what we suspect is false but fear is true—is likely deliberate, another thing Boianjiu wants us to understand about this country we talk about so much and know so little about. Agent: The Wylie Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/09/2012
Release date: 09/11/2012
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-78109-012-1
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Open Ebook - 195 pages - 978-0-307-95596-8
Paperback - 354 pages - 978-0-307-95597-5
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-385-67689-2
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Library Binding - 392 pages - 978-1-61173-625-0
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-385-67691-5
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4481-3963-7
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