How does one cope when a mother picks up, without warning and abandons the family, setting off for another country to live with a man other than your father? How does a child of four handle the death of his mother, from childbirth, within the environment of conflicts in Israel?
The Inbetween People, by Emma McEvoy, is a novel that quite brilliantly depicts two individuals who become friends. Ari Goldberg is Jewish. Saleem is an Israeli Arab. The two meet and through the years we read about their struggles to maintain their lives within the constant struggles that are ongoing between the Jews and the Arabs.
The majority of the book deals with the issues of the loss of their mothers. Ari’s mother and her abandonment of the family takes its toll in every facet of his life. He tries to extinguish his feelings and his thoughts on her, but they resurface to haunt him.
The same is true of Saleem, and how the loss of his mother affected him and the rest of his family. Ari’s father tried to shield him as best he could, but even he felt the constant loss. The loss of his grandmother’s house, which was eventually occupied by Israelis, affected how the family managed to survive the indignity of being forced to leave their home.
Ari begins to write from a prison cell, and he writes of the loss of his mother. Saleem joins the Israeli army, as an Arab, hoping to help the conflicts occurring.
I thought The Inbetween People had a lot to offer in regards to family dynamics, especially how loss defines a person. The characters tried to bury their losses, tried to hide their memories from themselves, to no avail.
Can we bury the past? When familial, emotional trauma constantly fills us, mentally, physically and emotionally? We can become like people in limbo, stuck in time in between the past and the present. The connections of time become intertwined. Through McEvoy’s beautiful prose, almost poetic prose and word imagery, we are given a lot to ponder in that respect.
The story is a metaphor for love, loss and redemption, within a framework of an ongoing social situation.
I finished it in a few hours, as it was a slim volume. It did have a strong message, within the short framework. McEvoy’s prose is filled with loveliness, and a feeling of melancholy illuminates the pages. I found The Inbetween People to be an excellent read regarding the emotional issues surrounding motherly loss and regarding the issues of conflict within a country’s changing attitudes and ideals. Emma McEvoy encompassed those issues well.
January 17, 2013 – 6 Sh’vat, 5773
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