Review From User :
Everything about this book is extraordinary. I was not surprised since Colum McCann is one of my favorite writers. I've read all of his published books. This book though, is different from anything I've read by him. McCann's words best describe it : "This is a hybrid novel with invention at its core, a work of storytelling which, like all storytelling, weaves together elements of speculation, memory, fact, and imagination...." The heart of the book is the real story of Rami Elhanan, an Israeli whose thirteen year old daughter Smadar was killed by suicide bombers and Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian, father of ten year old Abir who was shot after leaving a candy store. Their friendship is forged on shared sorrow and on empathy, meeting through organizations for grieving families, both Israeli and Palestinian, working together sharing their stories with each other and the world.
This book is breathtaking, literally in the detailed descriptions of what happened to these two young girls, breathtaking in how it conveys the depth of grief of their families and equally in the illustration of empathy and in the unique structure. It's not a straightforward narrative. It's an all encompassing blend of stories about historical figures, quotes from literature, biblical references, art and science and even a few photographs, none of which are more affecting than those of Abir and Smadar. The linkages are both fascinating and jolting. And the birds, so many images - real, sculptured , none more affecting than the dove. Everything is connected. Everything has meaning. Everything is related to the deaths of ten year old Abir and thirteen year old Smadar, to the deaths of those who were killed with them, to the deaths of those who were killed before them and those who we're killed after them, to those who happened to be Israeli, and those who happened to be Palestinian and to the Holocaust victims, to all these human beings. It's epic in scope. I read it slowly because I didn't want to miss a single word or a connection between people past and present, between events past and present, between things past and present and the heart of this story. The emotional impact is quite stunning.
The book moves around in time, from their pasts to their presents to the moments that their daughters were killed. This book is as cerebral as it is emotional and the combined effect leaves me in awe of Colum McCann. The prose is unparalleled. It's the kind of book that left me changed. I highly recommended it to fans of the author and to anyone who is looking for an absolutely unique reading experience. My favorite of the year and definitely one of my all time favorites. Of course, I had to find out more about Bassam and Rami and I read numerous articles, interviews, etc and it was obvious that McCann more than does justice to their stories. It's worth taking the time to read and listen to some of these in their own words . What hope, what empathy is possible even after the impossibly horrific thing that happened to their daughters.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley.
Media Size : 15 MB