The Inbe­tween People

Emma McEvoy
  • Review
By – June 27, 2013

This remark­able lit­tle nov­el is a haunt­ing­ly beau­ti­ful tale of love, loss, and redemp­tion, told from the points of view of Avi, a first gen­er­a­tion Sabra, and Saleem, an Israeli Arab. Both serve in the Israeli army; both are shat­tered. Their friend­ship serves as a metaphor for the sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences between these two subcultures. 

Avi’s moth­er left when he was a small child. Saleem’s mom is dead; he’s being raised by his grand­moth­er, who is lost in a dif­fer­ent way, yearn­ing for the house her fam­i­ly left. Each father tries his best to pro­vide a nour­ish­ing home for his chil­dren, but the absent moth­ers loom, a gen­tle ache that nev­er goes away. 

Saleem loves Sahar; for a bliss­ful inno­cent time, they would meet Avi on a lit­tle beach. Saleem and Sahar even­tu­al­ly mar­ry. The men begin their mil­i­tary ser­vice. When the Intifa­da of 2000 erupts, there is loss — per­son­al, cul­tur­al, and nation­al. The past can­not be reclaimed or rewrit­ten. Per­son­al rela­tion­ships and lives are ground up by the mer­ci­less, shift­ing sands of war. But one can still act nobly, or at least try.

Emma McEvoy’s prose is lyri­cal and poet­ic. The images are sharp and clear, at times stark. Her ele­gant descrip­tions sculpt the land­scape into a sub­tle voice, infus­ing and under­lin­ing the sto­ry: beau­ti­ful, harsh, unfor­giv­ing and, like its peo­ple, stub­born and resilient.

Sydelle Shamah has been lead­ing book club dis­cus­sions for many years, and is a pub­lished sci­ence fic­tion writer. She was pres­i­dent of the Ruth Hyman Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter of Mon­mouth Coun­ty, NJ.

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