Light Years

  • Review
By – August 6, 2012

Trau­ma­tized by her boyfriend’s death in a sui­cide bomb­ing and blam­ing her­self for it, Maya Laor flees Israel for col­lege in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, a place she thinks of as light years away from the mem­o­ries that haunt her. Seek­ing both geo­graph­ic and emo­tion­al dis­tance, Maya stud­ies astron­o­my and avoids cam­pus social life, keep­ing her past to her­self and avoid­ing any men­tion of Israel. Bemused at first by how inno­cent Amer­i­cans are, how shel­tered her perky room­mate is, how cal­low the boys she meets are, Maya, in spite of her­self, begins to make con­nec­tions and, after a bad fall while run­ning, real­izes that she has made friends who care for her as much as she cares for them. Her sto­ry is told in chap­ters that alter­nate between Vir­ginia and Israel and it is through the lat­ter that her fam­i­ly life, social life, love affair, and army ser­vice are revealed. All of the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion is strong but Maya her­self is the most mem­o­rable for her intel­li­gence, hon­esty, and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty. Read­ers gain insight into the lives of mod­ern Israeli young peo­ple and will rejoice as Maya recov­ers from a tragedy that marks many Israelis’ lives. This excel­lent first nov­el is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for old­er teens and adults.

Lin­da R. Sil­ver is a spe­cial­ist in Jew­ish children’s lit­er­a­ture. She is edi­tor of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries’ Jew­ish Val­ues­find­er, www​.ajl​jew​ish​val​ues​.org, and author of Best Jew­ish Books for Chil­dren and Teens: A JPS Guide (The Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety, 2010) and The Jew­ish Val­ues Find­er: A Guide to Val­ues in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture (Neal-Schu­man, 2008).

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