Book Review: The People of Forever Are Not Afraid

The People of Forever Are Not AfraidThe People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Hogarth, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group
Paperback Release Date: June 25, 2013

Publisher’s Description:

Yael, Avishag, and Lea grow up together in a tiny, dusty Israeli village, attending a high school made up of caravan classrooms, passing notes to each other to alleviate the universal boredom of teenage life. When they are conscripted into the army, their lives change in unpredictable ways, influencing the women they become and the friendship that they struggle to sustain. 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.

This book made me profoundly grateful that I live in a country without mandatory military service. I’m thankful for all the people in my country who serve voluntarily. Imagine living in a place where almost all of the adults, men and women, had served in the military and had their personalities and attitudes shaped by that. Ms Boianjiu spent two years in the Israeli Defense Forces s herself so I’m assuming that her portrayal of what life is like for women in the IDF is fairly accurate. The author has a unique writing style – somewhat detached prose that can come off as slightly pretentious at times but was beautiful most of the time. The narration alternates between the three women and at times I was confused as to whose turn it was -often the narrator is not named until a few pages into a chapter.

All of the women are deeply and understandably affected by their service in the military. I was haunted by this book and these women. After reading it, I felt like I understood a little bit more about what it’s like to live in a country where everyone is on edge most of the time, waiting for the next suicide bombing or whatnot. Luckily, there were a few wonderfully dry, cynical, humorous lines interspersed here and there that kept this book from being too over the top depressing. If you are a fan of experimental style literary fiction, I recommend this book for you.

Buy this book at:
Amazon Powell’s Books Rainy Day Books

(I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.)