Chains of Sand by Jemma Wayne

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Chains of Sand by Jemma Wayne

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Olivia Tierney
Reviewed by Olivia Tierney
Summary: A brilliant story revolving around two young Jewish men who are trying to find their place in the world. The novel gives an insight into the everyday terrors facing those living in Israel, the tensions within the occupied territories, and global attitudes towards Israel's actions. The thought-provoking journey, set against the backdrop of one of the most pressing conflicts today, makes Jemma Wayne's book a must-read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: June 2016
Publisher: Legend Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1785079726

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Chains of Sand is a great read about family, faith, survival, and love. It follows the story of two young men: Udi a veteran of the Israeli army who longs for a new future in London, and Daniel, a London banker unsatisfied with his life and yearning for something more. The story focuses on their desires to change their lives by moving to different worlds and how this impacts their relationships with friends and family. As the story unfolds, the two protagonists' histories are slowly uncovered and they both have to overcome the difficulties in their new lives in order to achieve their dreams. Meanwhile, the fate of star-crossed love between a Jewish girl and an Arabic man in Jerusalem a decade earlier intertwines with Daniel's life, complicating all that he thinks has become clear.

The novel wonderfully gives insight into modern-day life in both London and Israel from the perspectives of citizens and immigrants. Chains of Sand centres on Israel: what it's like to live there for both communities, the allure of living there, as well as the attitudes towards the country in light of government actions. The day-to-day life in Israel portrayed in the book was very thought-provoking and interesting. It was more brutal than I expected, particularly in the treatment of women, surprising me in how backwards the society was. Moreover, Jemma Wayne did a fantastic job developing both Udi and Daniel as characters and she was very good at displaying the impact of their decisions to move countries upon their family members. The consequences of the conflict between Israel and Palestine are especially detailed and the frightening war-zone atmosphere is very well conveyed. I've previously studied the conflict and I believe that it is a topic that should be highlighted and deserves more attention. I believe there should be a wide awareness of the conflict and the situation in the Middle East to have any hope of pressurising the two parties involved to find the best solution and lay down their weapons.

However, although Chains of Sand gives a very clear picture of what life is like in Israel and the occupied territories, there was a lack of information on the origins of the conflict and the reasons why the two communities were fighting. As a reader, I would have appreciated some brief but informative descriptions further explaining why the conflict had not been resolved previously and explaining the opinions of both the Arabs and Jewish people. Additionally, I would have liked to read more about the lives of Arabs living under Jewish rule and in the occupied territories as the majority of the book's perspective was Jewish. This would have added further depth to the story by providing both contrasts and similarities in the two races. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the strong hints regarding the dividing views of Israelis about the on-going conflict and the government's actions – my only wish was that I would have liked to hear more about the two opposing opinions.

Jemma Wayne's novel is highly thought-provoking and fantastic in delivering the message that it's never too late to seize the day and embark upon great adventures. The book is incredibly persuasive in making readers want to travel to other countries and experience different cultures – after reading this book my passion of exploring more of the world has been reignited and I can't wait to go! To conclude, I want to commend Jemma Wayne for writing a great book on a complex controversial subject matter, which is rarely incorporated into fiction.

In terms of further reading suggestions, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is an excellent novel following two women living in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The book depicts the brutality these women face daily and the oppression towards them. Much like Chains of Sand, it is thought-provoking and while harrowing at times a vital addition to any bookshelf. In addition, “War Stories” by Jeremy Bowen gives further insight into life in modern-day Israel and provides further information about the on-going conflict at the heart of the Middle East.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing The Bookbag with a copy to review!

You might also appreciate Croc-Attack by Assaf Gavron.

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