Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Review: Bottle in the Gaza Sea

Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti. (Grades 7+)

Tal is an Israeli teenager and she's been dealing with the conflicts between Israel and Palestine for as long as she can remember. One day she gets the urge to write about her experiences and she puts her message in a bottle and throws it into the Gaza sea, hoping someone will find it and start a conversation with her.

She's not at all expecting that someone to be "Gazaman", an irreverent, angry guy whom she gets to know through a series of email exchanges. He reluctantly talks about his life on the Gaza strip where internet access is spotty and monitored and talking to the wrong person can get you beat up. The Palestinians are angry. The Israelis are angry. Sometimes they're both angry about the same events. And Tal, who was hoping for a simple exchange of ideas, an easy way to get to know "the other side", will find that there are no easy answers.

Written by a French woman who has lived in Israel, this is an important book for teens to read. This is a great book to spark discussion, a great book to read and talk about. It's told from the perspectives of both Tal and Gazaman through emails, narration, and IMs. I'd be willing to bet that many teens in America know hardly anything about the Israeli-Palestinian War and this book will bring it to life. I'd pair it with Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Read more reviews by Miss Erin, Melissa, and Jocelyn.