Jerusalem: A Family Portrait
Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi
*note I owe an apology to FirstSecond for being so slow to get this review out, please don’t hold it against this wonderful book*
The year is 1940. The place is Jerusalem. And there is war all around. Not only is World War II continuing and taking away the men and boys of Israel to fight Hitler’s armies, but Jews and Arabs are fighting once more within Jerusalem. This story follows three generations of the same family, 15 members in total, from 1940-1948, through war, through jail, through faith, and through death. This is a story that will not let you go.
This has been one of the most difficult books for me to review, not only because of the content (which at times draws close to some buried family secrets) but also because of the way the story is told. Boaz is a filmmaker at heart and it shows in how he writes and plots his stories as he moves from one person to the next and then back again to pick up the characters tale. It’s a powerful and interesting way to create a story, but at the same time there were times I got lost and needed a scorecard to keep up with the characters (of which thankfully there was one in the front.) It took me two read throughs to see the entire story, which is probably more my reading style than that of Boaz’s writing. That aside though, this is a powerful story and is one that you’ll want to read again and again to see what you might have missed. Although Boaz fictionalized parts of the story, much of it still has the feel of a biography which makes it even more interesting to read.
Nick’s black and white illustrations make it feel like we’re watching one of those old classic black and white films and gives the film a sense of heaviness, of reality that grounds the story and helps keep it real. We watch as the characters grow and change during this 8 year time period and come to life. Although the illustrations are relatively simple, Nick adds details to keep visual interest that will keep the reader looking for visual imagery that enhances the story.
ARC provided by Gina at FirstSecond