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Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.

Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#1 by ananya92
» 12 Apr 2017, 01:17

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Israela" by Batya Casper.]

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4 out of 4 stars
Review by ananya92
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Israela by Bayta Casper is a book in the fiction genre. The story is set in Israel and follows the story of three women caught in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Orit and Ruti’s father taught the two sisters to keep an open mind, and respect Jewish and Arabic culture equally. Ruti grows up to be an Israeli journalist, while Orit earns fame as an actress. After their parents untimely demise, they’ve only each other, but fate has other plans. Ruti falls in love with an Arab, and forsakes her previous life, to become Ratiba after their marriage, keeping her Jewish identity a secret.

Banished by her sister after a bitter confrontation, Orit is left with only sad memories. She longs to reunite with her sister, to bond with her nephew and nieces, but her innocent wish is fulfilled in a disastrous manner, which only widens the gulf between the two sisters. Elisheva, their cousin, commits herself to a life of nursing, caring for the injured, and healing those broken by the Second Intifada. Will these women find peace, which has eluded them, and Israel for decades?

The story is written in first person, oscillating between the perspectives of the three women, and follows a nonlinear chronology. Since this novel covers events spanning more than half a century, readers might find it helpful to brush up on Israel’s history (I did). To be honest, with regard to the Israel-Palestine conflict, my sympathies have tilted towards the latter. However, I have to thank the author for acquainting me with the momentous struggle of the Jewish community to find a home, which they can call their own. This book offers an insight into the history, culture, polity, geography, and society of Israel.

The author’s writing style is descriptive and evocative. I could almost picture the olive trees swaying in the desert expanse of the region, and feel the pain, anguish and hope harbored by the characters. The book is split into seven parts, with brief appearances of Israel (or Israela), who is personified as a female. Though the story majorly circles around the three Jewish women, it remains remarkably unbiased. The author has intelligently used women as her central characters as they suffer the most in any political or military friction.

All the three protagonists are pretty likable characters, with their weaknesses and failings, like Ratiba’s fear of exposure that overpowers her desire to see her sister. There are several minor characters flitting in and out of the story, and each character has something substantial to contribute. There is so much to like in the plotline: how Ratiba is caught between two worlds and is spurned by both for her half-hearted loyalty, how Ibrahim discovers her secret but keeps it to himself to punish her, how their lack of dialogue is an allegory for the lack of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, how Orit is unable to gather the courage to meet her sister and yet doesn’t stop hoping for a reconciliation, how Elisheva heals her patients by recording their stories, and how these stories convey the true spirit of Israel, where Arabs save Jews and Jews protect Arabs.

The author weaves a fascinating tale featuring complex, idealistic and passionate characters, which are mysteriously linked without their knowing, and the reader is left spellbound when the suspense is lifted at the end. The author does not propose a solution to the schism, but what she does offer are stories displaying the power of familial bond and selfless acts of heroism.

This book makes a convincing appeal for peace through its pages. For this alone it deserves a 4 out of 4 stars. Readers, who appreciate good literature and sensitive storytelling, should definitely try this one.

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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#2 by Amagine
» 12 Apr 2017, 11:19

I enjoy books that have realistic and complex characters. It makes readers bond with them more and sympathize with their struggles. I like the fact that there are three protagonists and readers get to experience their failures and successes. This book also sounds like it is very informative about the Jewish and Arabic culture. This book could change some reader's mindsets for the better and make them more culturally accepting of others. This sounds like the kind of the book the world needs right now.

Great Review! 😀
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#3 by ananya92
» 12 Apr 2017, 11:22

Thank you :)
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#4 by kandscreeley
» 12 Apr 2017, 12:02

This definitely does sound like an interesting story. I'm glad that the characters were well thought out as a good character makes a good book. It sounds like it is very thought provoking as well. Thanks for the review.
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#5 by Lest92
» 12 Apr 2017, 15:46

What I think I would appreciate most about this book is the fact that it reminds the reader of a conflict we've been desensitised to, since war in the Middle East is always in the news, so much so that it hardly registers anymore. With the focus on differences and the impact of the conflict on characters who experience it, we're reminded of the humanity of those involved.
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#6 by Chrys Brobbey
» 12 Apr 2017, 19:15

This is quite a mix of emotions and twists in cultures in a flux. No wonder that the author does not propose a solution at the end, since the division continues. This can set the stage for a sequel.
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#7 by kimmyschemy06
» 26 Apr 2017, 10:09

Sounds like one fascinating read with admirable characters. I would love to read all about Israel and the Jewish community and this book seems to offer a lot of information. Good job on the review. Congratulations to Batya Casper on such an obviously well written book.
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#8 by ananya92
» 26 Apr 2017, 11:10

Thank you :)
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#9 by hsimone
» 10 May 2017, 06:29

Great review! I can honestly say that I haven't read a book with this premise before. Though, it sounds like one that many can benefit from. It's amazing when authors can make you "...feel the pain, anguish and hope harbored by the characters." I'm glad that this was the case here. It also sounds like a read with a great message. Thank you for sharing and congratulations to the author for receiving such a positive review!
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#10 by Gravy
» 10 May 2017, 06:45

Historical isn't normally my genre, but you really sell this one. It might just be that this complex story is enough to convince me to read it.
Thank you for your very thorough review.
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#11 by Tomiwa
» 10 May 2017, 07:11

another nice book to make readers learn from a culture which is different from theirs. it also shows the bond between sisters.this is a job well done. thank you for this book of the day.
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#12 by gali
» 10 May 2017, 07:35

Sounds interesting! I am glad that the author acquainted the reader with the ongoing struggle of the Jewish community and Israel, a struggle that has begun before the birth of the state and didn't stop since. To those unfamiliar with the history, the Arabs have refused to accept the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan when it was offered. The neighboring Arab states (together with the Arabs in Israel) attacked Israel the day after it was founded. Luckily, they lost. It was the first official war (there were other Arab attacks on Jewish Settlements even before the birth of Israel) and other wars soon followed. To this day the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. It is good that the book makes a convincing appeal for peace and covers both sides of the conflict. Thank you for the review!
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#13 by MarisaRose
» 10 May 2017, 07:46

I'm excited about this book. I love when historical fiction truly transports the reader and is character driven. I'm also excited about the author's writing - that can always make or break a book. Great review :)
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#14 by OlgaNM
» 10 May 2017, 07:51

Thanks for a beautiful review of what sounds like a great book about an important topic. Thanks!
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Re: Official Review: Israela by Batya Casper

Post Number:#15 by Strangerthanfiction
» 10 May 2017, 08:19

What a teriffic review! I rarely read historical fiction but when a writer can put down words that make you see, feel, and experience the story deep down I know that this is not a story that I can pass up. Congrats to the author on this truly compelling review.
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