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The People of Forever Are Not Afraid may be one of the most unique and unforgettable novels I ve ever read I think it s first and foremost a coming of age tale of a few young women, but it also provides a lot of vivid details about the experience of being drafted into the Israeli army There s definitely a level of heightened reality to much of this, but given the circumstances these young women find themselves in, this is entirely appropriate and effective and occasionally adds some welcome humor to the proceedings Some of theextreme examples of heightened reality didn t entirely work for me, like the one where the soldiers return to their former base for a nightmarish reunion, but on the whole I was deeply impressed by the voices, language, and plotlines of The People of Forever Are Not Afraid Its author was ridiculously young at the time of publication I am honestly a bit frightened to think of all the fierce writing she may produce over the course of her career and I mean that as a compliment. I can t begin to say how sad I was to watch the unity and gravitational center of this book start to crumble and then sort of whirl apart around half way through I d been looking forward to this book for weeks before Editors Buzz at BEA, and it was the only ARC I walked away with.For the first few chapters, my excitement was totally justified I should assure potential readers that that first excitement was never fully undermined I m not an expert on these things, but I suspect that PEOPLE OF FOREVER suffers from youth and a not strict enough editorial hand, but little else Boianjiu possesses an intensity of vision and an understanding of different ways of being human that make me very eager to grow up alongside her There are authors eg George Elliot who startle the reader with their compassion for their characters, who inspire compassion through the desire to emulate that author s compassionate vision Then there are the authors who melt away but present one with characters who are clear and complicated and for whom the greatest source of compassion is effortlessly the reader herself Lea, Avishag, and Yael made me love them for themselves not for Boianjiu s sake or example and made me ache to love them evenBoianjiu s characters convince one that seeing all sides of everything can be easy as breathing, and there s nothing showy about hersome sort of vast humility and effacement echoes through the whole book.I wonder if this vast humility is one reason the narrative starts flying apart I m always suspicious of novels switching too many voices not characters, butlike first person, first person, third person, first person, third second sort of thing , and things get exponentiallyscattered compared to the control and conviction of the book s first half Things happen plot wise that Boianjiu doesn t prepare us to find useful, to be moved by I m all for surprise, but the reader needs to have been given tools in order for that surprise to do its work I almost had a feeling the author suddenly became afraid of what she had in front of her, of its force and to efface herself she effaced the story I don t know.But it s something worth a read, and I look forward to seeing Ms Boianjiu find a center to her work and she continues to practice. I think my disappointment in this novel has much to do with what I enjoy in a novel, and little to do with the quality of the novel itself I m pretty darned intelligent, but I prefer a story which grabs and sucks you in, that is intelligible, that is smart and challenging and beautiful and interesting I don t care for experimental, disjointed, and or stream of consciousness writing, and The People of Forever was certainly all those things I don t mind a story that is difficult to read, but please, make it enjoyable The writing in this book was good the storytelling was not.The author tried to show, not tell , and tried a little too hard showing to such an extent that one s not really sure what exactly she s showing us The descriptions, motivations, and characters are abstruse Intelligent writing, yes, but not consistently gripping And really, too smart for its own good Very highfallutin at times, and intellectually smug I read this book because I wanted to learn about Israeli culture and customs there was a teachable moment opportunity in this book, particularly given our politicized views and misconceptions about Israel and the Middle East, but the writing style of this book is largely inaccessible to many In other words I can see this being a book that is academically successful, but not commercially Not an enjoyable read, and it didn t have anything to do with the ugly brutality Plus, I found all of the main characters to be pretty much just big jerks, with unfathomable motivations. First a big thanks to FirstReads for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of this debut book The opinions below are totally my own I rarely start off a book review about what a book isn t, but the blurbs on this book are so misleading that I felt compelled to do so This book is not about teenage girls who gossip about boys and whisper of an everviolent world Nor is it likely to be reviewed as a political statement by anyone who doesn t have an extreme one sided view.What it is about are three teenage girls Yael, Avishnag and Lea who are on the cusp of girlhood turned adulthood, when they are already fighting for self image, independence, and acceptance To all this, add a whole other dimension of uncertainty and potential danger as they mark this passage as soldiers in the Israeli Army One reflects, During her school years she had felt like every minute was part of a race Get that grade That boy Buy that shirt But the army was a numbing respite from that eighteen year long, breathless race There are some who will likely question the author s blurring of these three girls Indeed, there are many point of view shifts coupled with rapid fire language, which can leave a reader feeling a little adrift My belief is that this was a very deliberate choice in Israel, there is no certainty and situations can rapidly shift from boring to life threatening in one moment During those times, individuality does blur and a greater sense of unity emerges So it is with the girls.The stories and these are, in effect, interwoven stories are riveting and often horrifying One of the young girls serves involuntarily in the Israeli military police she creates an imaginary life for a Palestinian construction worker whom she sees daily, believing that he, too, is living a life that was foisted upon him Her fantasies are interrupted by a grim reality In another instance, one of the girls must bear witness to a forced prostitution ring, yet is unable to stand up to her superior This is a searing, often disturbing book that does not shy away from some explosive issues suicide, abortion, rape, and inhumanities It also provides a totally unique perspective of young women in the Israeli military girl women who follow a complicated guidebook of rules, have emotionally complex interactions with the Palestinians they encounter at checkpoints, and receive harsh awakenings As one girl states, I just understood that there are people who live or the fight for the moments before you lose or win People for whom this world is not enough they want ice water in their veins, beauty at any cost, climbing out of ditches under gunfire, exploding necklaces of grenades And then I knew those fascinating people I was never one of them Perhaps but these girls are fascinating in their own right. Thank God it s over Nu a fost o carte rea, dar m a teptam la altceva M a teptam la un fir narativ logic, nu o amestec tur de mumbo jumbo postmodernist care s asigure lauda unui cerc restr ns de critici literari cu be e n fund Subiectul a fost raw, Shani putea s distrug cititorul, s l arunce n aer, s l demoleze n schimb, n a f cut dec t s l ame easc , s l prosteasc cu uite fata, nu e fata, uite intriga, nu e intriga Obositor, pur i simplu obositor Ce dor mi e s mai citesc ceva de Tan Twan Eng And They Say Russian RouletteI was on the landline the whole night talking to Avishag All of the other girls stayed at Lea s party She made people stay, even after they heard something was up with Dan I didn t care about that And I didn t care that my mom could hear me or that my sister could hear me or that my dad could hear me At first the thing that was up was that Dan hit his head so Avishag was worried, and then the thing was that he was badly injured in the head and in the hospital but Avishag s mom told her not to go, and then the thing was that he was accidentally shot in the head, and then the final thing was that he and a couple of classmates went to the cellular tower hill and they called this girl, or that, but then they played Russian roulette because no one answered I mean, no one but those in the town had cell reception and almost everyone was at Lea s party, and that was the thing At six in the morning the thing was that Dan had died.But I don t believe any of these rumors I think he just went up that hill and blew his fucking brains out all by himself. Set primarily in a small Israeli village near the Lebanese border, Shani Boianjiu s debut novel The People of Forever Are Not Afraid charts the emotional deconstruction of three young women Yael, Avishag, and Lea from 2006 to 2012 The narrative explores their lives in the period before the Second Lebanon War July 12 to September 8, 2006 , as caustic, disaffected teenagers in a high school made up of caravan classrooms, to conscription in the Israeli army, the conflict itself, and the aftermath and how it impacts their lives.The novel is divided into three tonally distinct parts in the first part, we re introduced to the three friends We learn their histories, witness arguments and crushes that either drove them apart or brought them closer together Boianjiu offers early glimpses of trauma still to come through Avishag s brother, Dan, and how military service changed him, turned him into something less than he d previously been Their families are all uniquely strained, which is reflected in their differing personalities Yael, the most even handed and flirtatious of the three Avishag, who seems to be losing her grip on reality, feelingandalone with each day that passes Lea, who bears the nickname princess and is the only one of the three that could be classified as spoiled.In the novel s second, and most captivating part, Boianjiu introduces a host of new characters, each of them peripheral in some way to Yael, Avishag, or Lea We see, through their eyes and those surrounding them, the gradual acceptance of their respective military placements Avishag posted as a guard near the Egypt Israeli border Yael trained as a marksman and weapons expert who, despite her position, never loses theflirtatious aspects of her personality and Lea, posted against her desires, as a member of the Israeli military police It is in this part that Boianjiu expertly and realistically dismantles each of her three protagonists in startling ways, leading to sometimes unexpected and disturbing results.The final and shortest part serves almost as an extended epilogue though their stories have not come to a close, their lives have in many ways climaxed, and the three women, together again, are faced with accepting what their experiences in the military had done to them and what they had done, to themselves and others, as a result.Structurally, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid is an ever widening lens The first part is told entirely from first person perspectives, with each chapter shifting voice between the three young protagonists Though Avishag and Lea are both given chapters of their own to help develop their personalities, the strongest and most accessible voice is Yael s This feels intentional, as Boianjiu expands the novel s scope in the second part, shifting the perspective from first to third person for all but Yael This serves three purposes first, to further cement Yael as the medium, the voice of our entry into their worlds second, to illustrate, by pushing them away from the reader, limiting their internal dialogue, how service and the incidents that happen along the way are separating the three, both from their youths and from one another and third, to play upon the reader s expectations by forcing us to be removed from characters we d come to know, to some small degree, and to look upon them again as strangers in the making In the final part, it s only Yael s internal voice we are partially privy to, and though she has changed, it is how they have changed as a unit, as friends, that becomes most apparent.The transformations achieved along the way are earned, and accentuated through subtle, confident means the change in language as Lea, having experienced a certain amount of authority and control, experiences maturity, but also, through things witnessed during her time as a member of the military police, finds herself capable of malevolent, vengeful acts how Avishag and her father swap seats while he tries to teach her to drive, while their shared history reveals a gulf that has always existed, with Avishag, at different points in her life, occupying two separate sides of the same gulf while her father seems forever trapped in the middle, unable to fully comprehend the degree to which they have, symbolically, swapped ages.Shani Boianjiu was herself a member of the Israeli Defense Force for two years This background is certainly visible in the quality and concision of both language used between the girls, and the descriptions of weaponry, bases, and the girls small village The world presented is wholly believable, yet neither the aspects of the military introduced, nor the politics behind the conflict, ever threaten to overwhelm the narrative or distract the reader from Yael, Avishag, Lea, and their journey The People of Forever Are Not Afraid is an engrossing, searing read These three friends took me by surprise in ways I d not expected Highly recommended. |Download Book ♫ The People of Forever Are Not Afraid ♴ 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 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, Creates An Unforgettably Intense World, Capturing That Unique Time In A Young Woman S Life When A Single Moment Can Change Everything There s an interesting story somewhere in this book but it s buried under a lot of poor, confusing writing No surprise then this is an award winner as difficult to read books seems to equal brilliant in some people s minds But for me it s just a shame since I was interested in reading about what it s like for those Israeli women conscripted into the army at an early age and I wanted to come away from this book withthan one word, miserable It did start off promising enough We meet the three young women when they re in high school together studying Israeli history They re learning things like about PLO, SAM, IAF, RPG children RPG children were 9 or 10 year old Palestinian children who shot at Israeli soldiers but as Yael explains, RPG are powerful missiles with a backblastSo one RPG child held the launcher on his shoulder, and behind him stood another RPG child, on his toes, holding from the back And so when the RPG was launched, the child from the back s head caught fire, and then his shoulders, soon his sandals too, if he had them No one told the RPG children any better No one talked to them, no one told them anything, not the children who held it from the front and not the children who held it from the back, but one thing that is very, very interesting is that many times the child from the front would jump on his burning friend and hug him, and this increased the casualties in a significant way, that one child did not burn aloneAnd just like that we get a sense of a different kind of history for these Israeli girls.The book then branches off and separates the stories of the three women, Yael, Avishag Lea and their different army service But it doesn t just stay with them Instead it picks up the thoughts of any of the random side players that are in the story It s not a linear story It also jumps from the past to the present back One chapter decides to be about person a and person b There s a lot of stream of consciousness and you can t tell sometimes what s real what s not There s supposedly something horrible that happens to the girls at the end but it s written in such euphemistic language you couldn t really tell what was happening whether it was real or not There were some good stories like the one with Lea at the checkpoint and making deals with the demonstrators so they could get publicity they needed It was interesting to see the almost relationships that develop between the people you re guarding against It s almost an uneasy truce But these are just moments in the story and it doesn t really connect They re just a series of vignettes This story was originally written in English which is the author s second language This may explain some of the difficulties in comprehending the story I was never engaged with the characters as the three of their voices were similar It doesn t help that they re not really that likable In the end, I just didn t connect with the writing style and just wanted to get through the book It wasn t a DNF but it was close. This review was originally posted on Between My Lines I m making a big effort this year to read books that expose me to cultures and views that might necessarily be what I agree with And The People of Forever are not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu falls into that experiment Sadly though it s not one that paid off for me.I had a lot of issues with this book The setting was why I wanted to read it in the first place as it was so unique and diverse I m interested in the Israeli Palestinian conflict as it s such a human tragedy and it feels like the world is ignoring it And the setting for this one is not the one where my sympathies lie so I was really interested in getting that point of view And the setting worked well, it was shocking and violent and I got a strong sense of place while I was reading it.On the negative side though, the book was all over the place It feels like nobody edited it and half the time I was totally confused while reading it There are 3 points of view and it jumped from one to the other without warning Often I wouldn t even realise for a page or two and that really interrupted the flow of the book for me The timeline was also very jarring and again, there was no chapter headings or warnings that a time shift was happening.The characters are not likeable girls and I found it hard spending time with them In the end I was just glad to finish this one and admit that it just wasn t for me Too disjointed, too random and far too hard to interpret To be honest, I m not really sure what I just read Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. I think I echo other readers in my reaction to this book The idea of writing a novel based on the experience of being a female soldier in Israel is a great one So I was really looking forward to reading this book So I couldn t help being a bit disappointed with the actual book But much of my reaction is based on what I anticipated the book would or should be On its own, leaving anticipation aside, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid is a quirky and at times powerful depiction of late adolescents early adults muddling through in a complicated world At the end of the day, I like parts of it but can t say that I loved it or felt I could really understand the characters being depicted.