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A Bottle in the Gaza Sea Hardcover – April 1, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–8—Told primarily through emails, this is the story of two young people on opposite sides of a political chasm: Naïm is Palestinian and lives in Gaza, and Tal is Israeli and lives in Jerusalem. Brought up in a family committed to Israeli-Palestinian peace, 17-year-old Tal writes a note, puts it in a bottle, and asks her brother, who is serving in the Israeli army, to throw the bottle into the sea in Gaza. Instead, he places it in the sand on the beach, and it is picked up by Naïm. Thus begins the email correspondence between "Gazaman" and "Bakbouk." As they slowly feel each other out, the teens begin to develop trust, friendship, and perhaps even something more. Their thoughts about their lives and about the political situation are carefully presented, and their musings and growing relationship constitute the central action of the novel. This smooth and unobtrusive translation starts out slowly and takes nearly one hundred pages to reach out and grab readers. The second half is compelling, but the ending is abrupt and feels unfinished. The book's appeal is likely to lie in the fact that these two characters are regular kids, yet are unusual in their sense of themselves as different from the people around them. They are caught in a situation not of their own making, they are not understood by the world, and they show, as young people often do, the simple and direct humanity of people of good will.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
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From Booklist

Zenatti’s Batchelder Honor Book, When I Was a Soldier (2005), is a memoir about her conflicts while serving in the Israeli army. This docu-novel is more messagey. It begins when 17-year-old Tal, in Tel Aviv, sends out a bottle with a peace message that includes her e-mail address. Naïm, 20, finds it on the beach in Gaza, and replies. Contrived setup aside, readers will be caught by the immediate personal and political drama, as the two young people speak in instant messages, e-mails, and first-person narratives with anger, sympathy, humor, and sorrow about their history and their daily lives—what separates them (they live just 40 miles apart, but it feels like 6,000), and what connects them, including their shared opposition to fundamentalists and their longing for peace. They also worry about each other, especially when Tal witnesses a bombing in her neighborhood. The Romeo-and-Juliet scenario, translated from the French, will draw teens, as will the urgent headline issues. Grades 7-12. --Hazel Rochman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1st edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599902001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599902005
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As the author of The Last Moderate Muslim, a peace activist, and one who lived inside West Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, I ask you to not consume yourselves with taking inventory of sound bites and chapter length to reconcile even-handedness. You will miss the powerful themes embedded in the storyline(s). In my mind, the story points a finger at planet Peace. Some might busy themselves looking at the finger. They will question the intent or narrative. They will miss taking the journey of humanity to reach that planet.

The story satisfies the need for expressing the Palestinians' way of life more so than has been done in rhetoric (words) and violence (actions) to-date. It addresses the fears that Israelis are experiencing as well.

I found myself in the story, since I experienced similar and parallel living conditions and encounters. At times, I was on the brink of tears.

Both Naim and Tai lived in a world circumscribed to them differently. Tai's world was defined by fear while living in the open. She feared bus rides. She avoided a café, where once others were killed. She didn't know when her turn will be up, and didn't accept it as a way of life. She grew paranoid. She became lonely among family and friends. On the other hand, her friend was indifferent; Like most, her friend marched where blood was spilled before. Not her! She was sensitive, but not weak. She resisted getting habituated on those terms.

Tai demanded privacy at her computer, when Naim sought one in the bathroom. She didn't see right or wrong; us or them; kill or be killed. At first, Naim did. She saw her world diminishing with every act of violence on both sides.
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Format: Hardcover
Valerie Zenatti's moving novel, A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, translated by Adriana Hunter, depicts the unlikely correspondence and growing connection between Tal, a 16 year old Israeli girl and Naim, a twenty year old Palestinian young man. The story begins following a bombing in Tal's neighborhood. A young woman is killed on the eve of her wedding. Tal is shaken and moved to write down her thoughts. She has the overwhelming urge to share her ideas with a Palestinian. She asks her brother, Eyton, to throw the letter, stuffed into a bottle, into the Gaza Sea. Naim, or Gazaman, as he refers to himself, finds her letter and responds with an email.
Their letters are sincere, defensive, and concerned. Both Tal and Naim yearn to be heard; they want recognition. Through their letters as well as sections of authentic narrative and interior monologue, the reader feels their growing friendship and love. Although their points of view are opposite, they do indeed have much in common. In every word, the yearning for peace and understanding glow. The end result: a stunning and frank conversation. This novel should serve as a discussion point for young people who are tired of politics as usual. Like the film, Broken Promises, the story invokes utter despair as well as hope that young people hold the promise of peace. As Tal tells Naim, "I feel as if we're caught in a labyrinth and no one can find the way out, everyone's losing their temper and smashing everything in their efforts to get out into the fresh air." And as Naim tells Tal, "I mostly have dreams." The cover reads, "Love is like War...Easy to begin but hard to stop." But A Bottle in the Gaza Sea is about more than love. It is also about hope and fear, and will stay with the reader for a long time. Ages 12 and up. Reviewed by Sara Aronson
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Format: Hardcover
Far removed from the conflict in the Middle East it is easy to live day by day not thinking of the dangerous situation that mothers, fathers, children and grandparents live through daily in many places on the other side of the ocean. It is easy to forget the freedoms women don't have, the childless babies and the violence. However in my drive to feel more, to know more and keep all peoples close to me. I believe education defies prejudice and so I read on.

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea is a book of two hopefuls in a sea of killing, prejudice, and a tradition of violence between the Palestinians and the jews, from Jerusalem and the Gaza strip. Tal, a teen from Jerusalem wills to find peace, and longs for a glint of hope, of life from the other side. She puts a letter in a bottle and asks her brother, who is a soldier to put it in the Gaza Sea. Naim, is what comes of it, a bright Palestinian teen topped off with sarcasm. They email back and forth. Facades are broken down, lies made to truths, and through their friendship hope comes to them and those around them.

I genuinely enjoyed reading A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, Zenatti did an excellent job with the writing and the content of the book. The characters are fully believable, lovable and unforgettable. I hesitate to mention that this is designed as a young adult read, and that because of that you would steer clear, feeling that maturity and wisdom would most likely be lacking. I can promise you that those assumptions are wrong. The young Tal and her Gaza friend, Naim are young in age, but it is easy to be captivated by them, as they both portray the losses of their peoples at the hands of each others people. I was involved, interested and Zenatti spoke to me.
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