Friday, July 29, 2011

Post Card Fridays: A Trip to Israel

Today's postcard is from Katie from the middle east country of Israel:







Israel

Welcome to Israel! A land with a rich and complicated history. Making sense of it all can be quite the undertaking, but these four books offer different perspectives on this always-fascinating and sometimes-controversial country.

The graphic novel How to Understand Israel in 60 Days of Less does a nice job of trying to make sense of the Israel situation. Author Sarah Glidden takes us along with her on her Birthright trip to Israel. With a group of 20-something Americans, Sarah travels from the Sea of Galilee to Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea to Jerusalem. All the while, she seeks to sort the fact from the fiction in Israel’s story. Nothing is as black and white as she wants it to be, though. And while it may not be possible to ever truly understand Israel’s place in the world, she (and the reader) learn the value of respecting the opinions of others and keeping an open mind about people and places.

Amy Nelson is another visitor to Israel in How to Ruin My Summer Vacation. This book comes from the same author who gave us Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction, so you can bet there will be lots of romantic angst, but more compelling in this book is the setting of Israel. Amy’s been brought here by her absentee father very much against her will. She views Israel as one big war zone and one horrible way to spend her summer, but in meeting the family she didn’t know she had and the boy who will soon be a soldier in the Israeli army, Amy is forced to confront the truth that some things are worth fighting for.

You may notice that the topic of the Israeli army comes up again and again in these books. And for good reason. All Israeli teens are expected to serve in the army, regardless of gender or education, when they turn 18. Anna Levine’s Freefall provides the most insightful look at how Israeli teens tackle this huge responsibility. In the case of 18-year-old Aggie, she’s decided to confound everyone’s expectations and try out for an elite combat unit, despite her small size and government connections. Aggie will be tested more than she ever imagined--not only in tryouts but when tensions with Lebanon lead to attacks on Israel and her friends are put in the path of danger--but she always manages to stay true to herself, while still growing and learning that devotion to friends is just as important as love of country when it comes to serving Israel.

And finally, last but certainly not least, Real Time by Pnina Moed Kass may be one of the most heart-wrenching and realistic portrayals of the political unrest in Israel. This book begins as the story of sixteen-year-old Tomas Wanninger leaving behind his life in Germany to volunteer at a kibbutz in Israel to find answers about the past, but it quickly grows to include the perspectives of a survivor of the Holocaust, a Ukranian immigrant running from the past, a sixteen-year-old Palestinian boy, and so many others. This story is told in a similar style to the TV show 24, with the minutes on the clock ticking by, and when a suicide bomber strikes every minute counts as surviving the present and fighting for a future takes precedence over making sense of the past.

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