Two boys who have been taught to hate each other are thrown together in a Jerusalem hospital.
Sam, an Israeli teen, was struck by a military truck and does not want to lose his leg to amputation. Yusuf, a Palestinian teen, lost his left eye and is now fighting an infection that may spread to his brain. One night, for reasons of rebelliousness, curiosity and honor (and quite frankly, to impress a girl, an impulse that crosses all cultures), the two find themselves sneaking out of the hospital to explore the Old City. However, only a few steps in, they become lost, have to run from the police and face persecution for being together at every turn. With Yusuf hardly able to see and Sam hardly able to walk, getting back to the hospital seems impossible. In an adventure story set over the span of one night, McKay, who has proven her abilities to write about cultural discord (Thunder Over Kandahar, 2010), portrays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in incredibly human terms. There is blame and wariness between the two boys, but ultimately they must let go of learned prejudices and trust each other in order to survive. In this fast-paced narrative, Sam and Yusuf blur together at times—anger is a realistic, defining characteristic for both—but given the overarching theme, that confusion just may be the point.
Slim but powerful. (map, notes, postscript) (Adventure. 10 & up)