Book Review: The People of Forever are not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu

December 2, 2015 Book review 1

I’m making a big effort this year to read books that expose me to cultures and views that might necessarily be what I agree with.  And The People of Forever are not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu falls into that experiment.  Sadly though it’s not one that paid off for me.

Book Review: The People of Forever are not Afraid by Shani BoianjiuThe People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu
Published by Vintage Digital on February 7th 2013
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Shani Boianjiu's riveting debut is a revelation—the story of three girls who grow up in a small Israeli village and join the Israeli Defense Forces at eighteen, where they experience a typical coming of age at the same time as preparing for the ever-present threat of war. Yael trains marksmen and flirts with boys. Avishag stands guard, watching refugees throw themselves at barbed-wire fences. Lea, posted at a checkpoint, imagines the stories behind the familiar faces that pass by her day after day. They gossip about boys and whisper of an ever more violent world just beyond view. They drill, constantly, for a moment that may never come. They live inside that single, intense second just before danger erupts.
In a relentlessly energetic voice marked by acid humor and fierce intelligence, Boianjiu creates a heightened reality that recalls our most celebrated chroniclers of war and the military, while capturing that unique time in a young woman's life when a single moment can change everything.

I had a lot of issues with this book. The setting was why I wanted to read it in the first place as it was so unique and diverse. I’m interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it’s such a human tragedy and it feels like the world is ignoring it. And the setting for this one is not the one where my sympathies lie so I was really interested in getting that point of view. And the setting worked well, it was shocking and violent and I got a strong sense of place while I was reading it.

On the negative side though, the book was all over the place. It feels like nobody edited it and half the time I was totally confused while reading it. There are 3 points of view  and it jumped from one to the other without warning. Often I wouldn’t even realise for a page or two and that really interrupted the flow of the book for me. The timeline was also very jarring and again, there was no chapter headings or warnings that a time shift was happening.

The characters are not likeable girls and I found it hard spending time with them. In the end I was just glad to finish this one and admit that it just wasn’t for me. Too disjointed, too random and far too hard to interpret. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I just read.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: one-half-stars


Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.


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