Two young Israeli girls endure waves of fear and bursts of pride as they and their families live through The Six Day War in 1967 Jerusalem. The tensions of the time include running to shelters where they spend what seems like endless amounts of time. They also include watching their parents remember the not-all-that-distant Holocaust and seeing those they care about lose loved ones and face bodily harm. Each moment feels uncertain and perilous, and previous markers of security seem to be crumbling all around them. To add further horror to their days and nights, the girls have discovered a forbidden radio station, which broadcasts Arab propaganda designed to terrorize adults far more experienced than either of them could possibly be. They are attracted to the voice on the radio and, in spite of parental warnings, they cannot resist sneaking off to furtively listen when they think they won’t get caught. In spite of the fear, and perhaps in some ways because of it, they learn that they can find strength in unexpected places and that families can be sources of surprise as well as comfort. They learn a little bit about humanity, too, and that it can exist on both sides of a conflict.
There are too few books for middle grade and young adult readers about modern Israeli history in all its complexity and nuance. It’s a vital topic and ought to be more often addressed. Here’s one book that offers a slice of that history and can start an excellent dialogue. It is recommended for ages 9 – 15. A historical note by the author is appended.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. She has lectured on a variety of topics relating to children and books and her greatest joy is reading to her grandchildren on both sides of the ocean. Michal lives in Great Neck, NY and Efrat, Israel.