Religion & Beliefs

On The Nightstand: Broken Bridge by Lynne Reid Banks

I’ve been excavating in my childhood bedroom of late, and have found my stash of Jewish chapter books. I read most of these in 5th-8th grade, and though they weren’t my favorites (I was inexplicably obsessed with the books by … Read More

By / January 3, 2008

I’ve been excavating in my childhood bedroom of late, and have found my stash of Jewish chapter books. I read most of these in 5th-8th grade, and though they weren’t my favorites (I was inexplicably obsessed with the books by a woman named Lurlene McDaniel who wrote exclusively about teenage girls with terminal diseases) I did love them to the point that the pages in most of them were practically falling out of the binding. One of my favorites—and one that I highly recommend to anyone with a preteen who has any interest in Israel is Lynne Reid Banks’s Broken Bridge. You probably know about Banks because of her wildly successful Indian in the Cupboard series, but this book is about Canadian and Israeli teens on a kibbutz dealing with terrorism, politics, and normal teenage stuff like having crushes and forming secret clubs. Here’s the synopsis available on Amazon:

The murder of a Canadian teen by Arab terrorists in the streets of Jerusalem heightens political tensions and triggers conflicting emotions felt by members of his family in this sequel to One More River (Morrow, 1992). Twenty-five years have passed since Lesley Shelby and her parents emigrated to Israel from Canada; Nili, her daughter, witness to the brutal murder of her cousin Glen, is inexplicably spared. In the aftermath of the attack, as police forces track the murderers, Nili's family tries to come to terms with grief and anger. Nili, fiercely loyal to Jewish Israel, is torn as she tries to protect the terrorist who deliberately intervened and saved her life. Her uncle Noah, the murdered boy's father, faces demons that made him flee Israel, abandoning his first family, years ago.

It’s a little dated already, but definitely worth a read, and a great Bar or Bat Mitzvah gift. The book is actually a sequel to a book about living on a kibbutz before and during the 1967 Six Day War in Israel, but though I enjoyed One More River I think Broken Bridge is better and more interesting.

I think my favorite thing about Broken Bridge is that even as a ten-year-old I remember feeling like this was a book about how complicated the situation was in Israel, and how it didn't try to simplify anything, or dumb down anything so that I could get it. It's too bad that pretty much nothing I've read about Israel since then has shared those characteristics.