Chains Of Sand
by Jemma Wayne
He has always been good at tracking down things that are hidden, like cockroaches in his mother’s kitchen cupboard, or tunnels in Gaza. At 26, Udi is a veteran of the Israeli army and has killed five men. He wants a new life in a new place. He has a cousin in England. Daniel is 29, a Londoner, an investment banker and a Jew. He wants for nothing, yet he too is unable to escape an intangible yearning for something more. And for less. He looks to Israel for the answer. But as the war with Hamas breaks out, Daniel cannot know that the star-crossed love of a Jewish girl and an Arabic man in Jerusalem a decade earlier, will soon complicate all that he thinks has become clear.
Chains Of sand is an emotive book, dealing as it does with the Israel / Palestine conflict. This is Israel’s story and the very human cost of living in a war zone with constant fear. I thought the title of the book and the cover were absolutely perfect.
Udi is a 26yr old, and deeply dissatisfied with his life in Israel. On the one hand he serves his country, fighting for Israel against Hamas in Gaza. But on the other hand he is frequently humiliated by being refused entry to bars and cafes because of his darker skin colour. Udi feels something of an outsider in his own country and has decided he is going to move to London.
Daniel is 29 years old and a Jewish investment banker living in London.He feel the pull of the homeland of Israel strongly, feeling an outsider in London and despite his family and friends fears for him moving to a war zone he is determined to move to Israel, join the army and make a new life for himself in the country where he feels he belongs.
A decade earlier, Dara, a young Jewish girl and Kaseem, a muslim Arab, are living in Jerusalem in a forbidden relationship that looks to have no future.
Three stories are interlinked and I could see quite early on how that was going to happen, but it is no less a book for that. In fact that probably makes the book all the more poignant.
This is a beautifully written book, a searing account of love, loss, identity and belonging. The characters were so well-developed and I took them to my heart even when I disagreed with their choices. Following Udi’s story made me feel that Daniel was at times a little self-indulgent, but the issues dealt with are complex and really give pause for thought.
Whilst this book is the story of what it is to be Jewish and Israeli, it is far from a glorified account. The author does not flinch away from the dark side of Israel and the chapter when a female character on a bus refuses to move for a male is sickening.
There are many different angles that the author comes from, delving deep into the Jewish psyche where nothing is black and white. This is not an easy book to read but it is so worthwhile and deserves to be widely read, especially by people whose knowledge of Israel come directly from the propaganda spouted by the western media.
Many thanks to publishers Legend Press for sending me a copy as part of the Legend 100 club.