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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Epic Graphic Novel about Palestinian/Israeli Conflict

Yankin, Boaz; Bertozzi, Nick (2013)  Jerusalem  New York:  First Second

     This is an epic -- a sweeping story that covers two families over several generations caught up in the creation of the Isreali State.  We see brothers on opposite sides of the conflict, sons set against fathers, and a family torn over the question of whether to take in the newly widowed bride of their brother.  This is such a huge story that trying to summarize it would be to spend a lot of time on something that really wouldn't give you a sense of what the book is like anyway.  Suffice it to say this is about families more than it is about politics.  It doesn't push the Israeli or Palestinian political perspective, but does address a lot of the issues of morality that war and occupation and conflict bring with them.  The questions of morality addressed here are large and small.  Should you punish your child for stealing kerosene that you need to keep your family warm?  Is a strong man one who fights for his family and community or one who refuses to fight?  The reader gets to know individual members of the families and comes to like, sympathize, and sometimes hate them.  It is a story that draws you in.
     The overwhelming and persistent theme in this book is something like "War.  What is it good for?  Absolutely nothing.  (Say it again.)"  The book has some vulgarity in places, and some depiction of sexual interaction, but I think it could work for high school students (You'll want to read it and consider it in the context of your particular school.)  Worth a look.

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