31 March 2012

Book Review: The Lonely Tree by Yael Politis

Title: The Lonely Tree
Author: Yael Politis
Publisher: Holland Park Press
Format: Paperback
443 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

The Lonely Tree by Yael Politis, is a powerful coming-of-age story about a young Jewish woman from Poland who moves, with her family, to Kfar Etzion, a kibbutz, in British Mandate Palestine. Spanning the years from 1946 until 1967, their daily hardships during the unfolding Jewish-Palestinian conflicts are woven around the true events that led to establish the state of Israel.

Josef Shulman is convinced that he has made the right decision to bring his wife, Leah and their children - Tonia, Rina, and Natan - to live in such a desolate place. He believes it will ultimately be worth all their struggles when the land is declared an offical Jewish state.

However, his headstrong daughter,Tonia is extremely critical of her father's plans. She hates living in such isolation with constant worries about attacks, and the primitive lifestyle on a kibbutz. Tonia yearns for a safe place to live, somewhere with modern comforts, and hatches a devious plan to escape her life in Israel and move to her dream house in America.To complicate things though, Tonia has fallen in love with Amos Amrani. They both dream of a better life but Amos, who fights in the Jewish underground, is determined to stay in Israel.

Tonia believes the end justifies the means but is she willing to sacrifice everything, even Amos?

As the story progresses, the reader learns to appreciate the different viewpoints of each of the well-rounded characters. A wide assortment of themes are explored: family, home, love, belonging, identity, security, loyalty, revenge, war, and purpose. The author also provides fascinating details about life on a kibbutz.and Jewish traditions.

The Lonely Tree is an exciting love story, with unforgettable characters and a thoughtful perspective of the history behind the emergence of Israel.

The author, Yael Politis, is a native of Michigan and moved to Israel in 1973. The Lonely Tree is her debut novel.

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