The Voice of Thunder

Mir­ka M. G. Breen
  • Review
By – November 8, 2013

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. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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