A “searing debut” about three young women coming of age, experiencing “the absurdities of life and love on the precipice of violence” (Vogue)
Yael, Avishag, and Lea grow up together in a tiny, dusty Israeli village, attending a high school made up of caravan classrooms, passing notes to each other to alleviate the universal boredom of teenage life. When they are conscripted into the army, their lives change in unpredictable ways, influencing the women they become and the friendship that they struggle to sustain. Yael trains marksmen and flirts with boys. Avishag stands guard, watching refugees throw themselves at barbed-wire fences. Lea, posted at a checkpoint, imagines the stories behind the familiar faces that pass by her day after day. They gossip about boys and whisper of an ever more violent world just beyond view. They drill, constantly, for a moment that may never come. They live inside that single, intense second just before danger erupts.
In a relentlessly energetic and arresting voice marked by humor and fierce intelligence, Shani Boianjiu, winner of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35,” creates an unforgettably intense world, capturing that unique time in a young woman's life when a single moment can change everything.
I find myself disagreeing with the previous reviewer on audible.com as I find the narration very suitable to this book. The voice sounds like that of a young woman (as the protagonists are) and I loved the way the narrator pronounced the Israeli names and put a smile in her voice when appropriate. The slightly foreign tilts adds to and enhances the story, and its sound will remain in my memory for a long time.
English is only the third foreign language I have learnt and I have had no problems understanding the narration and did not need to rewind, so I can't imagine most native speakers would have any difficulties. Please don't be deterred.
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This book is fascinating in many ways, as a way to experience an aspect of life in Israel I'd never heard before. But the mix of fantasy, dream, and reality was difficult to follow; it was primarily a collection of short stories with a lot of overlapping references. The poor reader compounded my confusion. She has a beautiful voice and fine diction, but was rarely able to properly emphasize words in sentences so that they made sense. Frequently she seemed not understand the sentences herself. So I found myself constantly restating the sentences to myself to rephrase them for meaning, thus missing the next sentence and having to repeat. A frustrating read!
An enjoyable new voice - at least in parts. The specific parts being the opening sections and early chapters and then the later section in respect of Entebbe. In between the fascinating insight of a group of young girls in the Israeli army became the distinctly unfascinating continual continuum of day to day life of young girls not in the Israeli army.
Best collected and summarised in the recent New Yorker short - a distinct lack of editing here turned a very promising start into a bit of a trek across the middle desert to a happier unhappy ending.