This is the story of a Palestinian family in Gaza coping with the hell of living in a warzone. The book is informative, exciting, and thorough—all you have to do is get through the first 60 cumbersome pages, and then the story flies along until the end.
Dabbagh’s main characters are 27-year-old Iman and her twin brother Rashid, and their story opens with a bombing raid. While Rashid is hanging out on his roof, stoned out of his mind and welcoming death, Iman is camped out in a basement with an activist group called the Women’s Committee, trying to find a solution to the war. After the raid subsides, another Women’s Committee member follows Iman and talks her into joining an extremist group that organizes suicide bombings of Israeli territory. But after she’s nearly killed, Iman teams up with Rashid to leave the country.
What follows takes the twins to the Gulf, London, and back to Gaza. Their father is a former member of a political group called The Authority, which polices Gaza, and they discover that their mother has a secret political past of her own. The choices that the twins make carry them on journeys that open readers’ eyes to the divides between different Palestinian resistance groups, the Eastern experience within the Western world, and, most poignantly, the toll war takes on individual lives. Although the family here is fictional, the history is real, and this makes Dabbagh’s writing, which at times can be awkward, valuable for the perspective it offers.
By Tessa McGarvey