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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The End of the Road by David Grossman

The author lost a son in the Israeli-Lebanon conflict in 2006, so he has an intimate reason to write about the effects of the Palestinian-Isralei contflict. He not only has lived it, he has lost to it, no matter the ultimate outcome. As the parent of a childhood cancer survivor, I am very aware of the fear of one's child's death, but I cannot imagine the actual loss. This book does not bring me any closer to that realization, but then the author does state that the book was well constructed prior to his son's death.
The book revolves around a classic love triangle--Ora and her two men, Avram and Ilan. She is married to Ilan, but she has a son with each of them, for reasons that are complicated, but suffice it to say that all three are damaged by their military experiences in the 1960's and how they ended up made sense given what happenend. Her son by Avram, Ofer, was discharged from the military and he and Ora had planned a big trek across Israel to celebrate--but then Ofer re-enlists for a dangerous mission, and Ora cannot take it. She vividly fears having someone come to tell her that Ofer has been killed. She decides to take off on the trip with Ofer's father, making herself unavailable--she calls herself a 'notifier-refusnik'. She has the magical thinking of one who cannot bear the alternative--if they can't tell her Ofer was killed then he is therefore alive.
War is hell, the book tells us, but not only because of it's brutality but because, in the case of Israel, of it's constancy. It is always there. No break, every generation has to fight it, and there is no end in sight. And it is emotionally exhausting.

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