Hope Val­ley: A Novel

September 1, 2020

Hope Val­ley is the sto­ry of two women, one Jew­ish-Israeli and one Pales­tin­ian-Israeli, who come togeth­er to form the unlike­li­est of friend­ships. Tik­vah and Ruby, who both car­ry famil­ial and col­lec­tive trau­ma, meet one day in the Galilean val­ley that sep­a­rates the seg­re­gat­ed vil­lages in which the two women live. This phys­i­cal divide is sym­bol­ic of some­thing much greater‚ the polit­i­cal enmi­ty that has defined the his­to­ry of two nations in this trou­bled land and which has led to par­al­lel cul­tures with lit­tle mean­ing­ful inter­ac­tion between them.

This is a book about the strength and fragili­ty of fam­i­ly ties, the pow­er trau­ma holds in shap­ing our lives, the strength we muster to face death and suf­fer­ing, the vicis­si­tudes of mar­riage, and the glo­ri­ous mean­ing of friend­ship. Tik­vah and Ruby’s sto­ry taps into the pri­mal need for con­nec­tion, as well as the rich and trans­for­ma­tive bonds that can result from syn­chro­nis­tic encoun­ters. In Hope Val­ley, we meet two strong women from nations in con­flict, who cir­cle each oth­er and, in rec­og­niz­ing each oth­er’s pain, offer us hope that fear and resent­ment can grow into love.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Havi­va Ner-David

  1. What are the var­i­ous cir­cum­stances and needs that kept Ruby and Tik­vah apart and then bring them togeth­er? What helps them over­come their ini­tial sus­pi­cions of each oth­er and become true friends? What does this sug­gest about Pales­tini­ans and Jews in Israel and the heal­ing that can hap­pen on a col­lec­tive level?

  2. What moti­vat­ed Tik­vah to move to Israel? How does her view on the Zion­ist nar­ra­tive she was taught change over time and why?

  3. Why is Alon unable to give Tik­vah the emo­tion­al sup­port she needs to deal with her fail­ing health? And what makes him able to come around in the end?

  4. Is what ways is Jamal and Marie’s rela­tion­ship trag­ic? Are either of them at fault? How can the front sto­ry in 2000 (Tik­vah and Ruby, Talya and Udi, Alon and Tik­vah, the sit­u­a­tion on Moshav Sapir) be a cor­rec­tive for the back­sto­ry in 1948?

  5. Describe some of Tikvah’s ambiva­lences about ful­ly sup­port­ing Ruby, Alon and Talya. What solu­tion does she find in the end? What does her solu­tion sug­gest about a pos­si­ble solu­tion to the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian conflict?

  6. Describe Ruby’s and Tikvah’s devel­op­ment as char­ac­ters in the nov­el. How did you feel about them each as a char­ac­ters in the open­ing of the nov­el? At the end of the novel?

  7. Who are all of the mixed breeds in the nov­el? What is the author sug­gest­ing my using that theme through­out the book?

  8. What does Cane rep­re­sent (her exis­tence, her breed, her name, how she showed up in Tikvah’s life, etc.), and what is her role in the novel?

  9. What do you think of the cov­er art? What does it rep­re­sent? And what is the sym­bol­ism of the Tree of Hope in the novel?

  10. What do you think of the end­ing of the nov­el? How would you describe it? What mes­sage and feel­ing do you think the author was try­ing to leave with the reader?