Sydney Avey

Dynamic Woman — Changing Times

Book Review: Waking Lions

Aug 22, 2017 | Book Reviews, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Waking LionsWaking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Waking Lions is a devastating story about the complexities of immigration, race relations, and justice. At the same time, it is about the human heart in conflict with the cultural heritages that influence how people view their world.

Conflicts between our desire to do right and our instinct to protect ourselves sometimes cause us to make moral choices that will take us places we never dreamed we would go. Such is the case with neurosurgeon Eitan Green, who leaves the scene of an accident for fear that facing up to his responsibility will compromise his family’s future. The situation is an everyman’s nightmare. 

The setting is Israel. The populations attempting to coexist are Israeli citizens and Eritrean and Bedouin immigrants. It’s the perfect storm. Two societies that lived uneasily with each other in their native country have little hope of integrating into a foreign culture. When Eitan Green gets pulled into the fray, he descends into a netherworld he knows nothing about.

A Literary Thriller

Literary thriller is an apt description. Each revealed truth turns a screw that tightens the narrative. The only fault I find with this novel is that the tension that grips us in the beginning and almost stops our hearts at the end lags a bit in the middle.

Meandering descriptions of his home life interrupt the drama that surrounds Eitan Green as he tries to free himself from the tentacles a bad decision. The accounts are necessary, but they veer off into rabbit holes that don’t seem to fit. Nonetheless, there are some telling details in the domestic scenes. For example, as the good doctor watches his son play with toy Transformers, “he realized how useful it was to divide people into good guys and bad guys.” Without knowing, he has touched the heart of the problem.

There is much to ponder in this story. The safety curtain between our perception of a good life and misery is thinner than we care to acknowledge. We can be wrong about our most basic assumptions, shockingly so. The drive to support the constructs that make us feel safe is strong.

In the end, the reader is left to wonder. For all the hell he goes through, was the end result much different for him than it would have been if he had owned up in the beginning? Will his heightened emotions and new knowledge change anything? Probably not. In the hands of an accomplished novelist, this is not a judgment, it’s an observation.

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