Tuesday 2 November 2010

Before We Say Goodbye

Before We Say Goodbye by Gabriella Ambrosio (Walker Books)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 978-1-4063-2504-1
Reviewed by Heather Zubek

Please read this book. 

For a few extraordinary hours the reader walks in the shoes of ordinary people going about their lives on an ordinary day. Slowly and painfully a recognizable horror is revealed and an ordinary day becomes extraordinary. The story is confronting in that it is based on a true story. Based on the suicide bombing in a supermarket in the Kiryat Yovel neighbourhood in Jerusalem in 2002 Before We Say Goodbye is written by an Italian journalist struck by the resemblance of the two young women involved in the blast – the bomber and the victim.  They were young, attractive women at the beginning of their life journey. 

The author Gabriella Ambrosio wanted the reader to ask themselves the value of life and to become involved in the daily lives of people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: ordinary people trying to live their lives in the midst of the intifada and terror attacks.“This book doesn't carry a political message, but rather a humanistic one," she says.

The author conducted her research in Israel and met with the parents of the bomber and the victim.  This intimacy with the story is well conveyed in her writing.  The reader views life through the eyes of each of the characters.  Their thoughts, worries and dreams become ours.

The format of the book helps to create the building tension in the story. Blank pages with only the unfolding time printed. The day begins at 7am and each of the characters is introduced to the reader in first person.  How each character goes about their daily life, thinking ordinary thoughts and is suddenly propelled into an age old argument makes Before We Say Goodbye the unsettling read it is. 

Before We Say Goodbye was first published in 2004 in Italy and it was used in the Italian high school curriculum.  Today it is being taught in universities in both France and Australia and the author travels the world as an ‘ambassador of peace’.

Please read this book 

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