“In Israel we are always soldiers,” Ido says, and he speaks for the multitudes on both sides of the conflict, those directly at war, and those in their homes, where a child’s room “is also the family bomb shelter, with reinforced walls and only a small high window.” Sacks is an extraordinarily gifted writer whose intelligence, compassion and skill on both the sentence and tension level rise to meet her ambition. She keeps us constantly on edge, unaware of who the story will go to and what event might happen next. In this environment of fear, everyone’s senses are heightened. The clash of religions, the dread of violence fuel intense desires. “The way Vera talks about sex,” a friend thinks, “it’s like the sex is a metaphor for something else, for some darker, stronger need that nobody can name.” It’s a need to defy death, a fervent desire to live. Perhaps this, above all, links the many characters together.
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