Books by Valérie Zenatti

A BOTTLE IN THE GAZA SEA by Valérie Zenatti
Released: April 1, 2008

When a bomb explodes at a nearby café on the evening of the tenth anniversary of a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, Tal, a 17-year-old Israeli girl, decides to reach out to a Palestinian neighbor. She asks her brother, serving his compulsory military service in the Gaza Strip, to throw a bottle with a letter inside into the Gaza Sea. She soon receives an email reply from 20-year-old Naim. At first the young man hides behind sarcasm and secrecy, but Tal, a persistent would-be filmmaker, draws out his true feelings. Through e-mails, text messages and diary entries, they express their anger and grief over the continuing violence and see beyond the stereotypes of their governments to recognize two young people who still have hope for peace and independence. Although the dialogue is occasionally stilted to introduce potentially unfamiliar historical events, Zenatti uses short, riveting chapters, as in her Batchelder Honor book, When I Was a Soldier (2006), to pack a punch with readers reluctant to voracious. The overall effect is one of a haunting relationship that will help teens understand both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
WHEN I WAS A SOLDIER by Valérie Zenatti
Released: May 1, 2005

The theme of compulsory military service for both men and women in Israel makes this author's memoir unusual. Although no reason is given, her family has recently emigrated from France and her friends are from the former Soviet bloc, so there is no family experience with the draft. She recalls the months before beginning her two-year enlistment as she and her friends face school tests, dating, sex and the unknown world of wearing a uniform. She is sympathetic to the Palestinians except when it comes to giving back any of Jerusalem, but like many non-religious Jews, she is definitely not sympathetic to observant Jews and makes no mention of their alternatives to military service. She describes her military service years filled with training, bus rides across Israel, special missions and chasing after a boyfriend in Jerusalem who has moved on to a new lover. There is, by the conclusion of her military stint, a growth in character—and the arrogance of those who are younger and believe they are smarter than the previous generation gives way to an appreciation of the work done by the army. Recommended for its different perspective on life in contemporary Israel. (Nonfiction. YA)Read full book review >