The People of Forever are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu – Book Review

The People of Forever are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu
Published by Hogarth, an imprint of Random House

From the Publisher:

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.

The People of Forever are Not Afraid is a powerful book. The girls all have difficult lives, and their time in the Israeli Army don’t make things any easier. If anything, one gets the feeling that the army has them even more screwed up than they were as children, and these psychological issues are something that they will pass down to their own children. None of the girls are particularly likeable, and in going between the three of them we don’t get to know any one of them overly well, but their vulnerabilities still make them characters with whom the reader can empathize, even if he or she has experienced nothing likeĀ  seeing a coworker stabbed while guarding a checkpoint.

The style of The People of Forever are Not Afraid can be challenging at times – it is not always immediately apparent which girl is the focus of a specific chapter – but it is a worthwhile read, both for the foreign-to-many experience it chronicles and for how compelling it makes the lives of these young women. Recommended.

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Source: Publisher, via Netgalley.
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