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Jerusalem Spring Paperback – November 1, 2010
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From the Author
I dedicate this book to every man, woman, and child struggling for freedom, peace, and justice. My hope is that Jerusalem Spring will open their minds to see not just their struggle but the struggles of others as well.
I made every effort to treat the characters and issues in my story evenhandedly. My heart goes out to every victim of every conflict and I blame myself for not doing enough to work for peace. I stand accused with the rest of humanity for not caring enough.
I dedicate this book to my children, and to every child throughout the world with the hope that we adults will give them a better place to live.
I especially thank my lovely wife for being there for me and making this idea a reality. Without her this book would never have been started nor would it ever have been what it is. She deserves more credit than she ever gives herself. She is my partner in life and no words can thank her enough.
I owe a debt of gratitude to my family and friends who took precious time from their lives to read and comment on multiple drafts of the book. Their contributions were priceless.
Above all I thank my parents, family and community for the lessons they taught me. My mom raised us to treat others the way we would want to be treated. My dad taught us to tell the truth and stand up for the weak. My thanks to both of them.
From the Editor
Thank you, to my mom, for not giving up on her dream of writing, and for inspiring me to finally get started. To my dad, for teaching me not to be afraid of taking scissors to my work and for teaching me to make the most out of a setback. To my children, for reminding me every day that a kiss on the cheek is one of life's greatest treasures. And to my husband, for his smile, his love, his support, and for being the best member of my favorite team.
About the Author
Fares Aoun was raised in Lebanon and is a graduate of Lebanese University in Beirut with a degree in Fine Arts. Growing up in a troubled area in the middle of a civil war, conflict between religions, ethnic groups, and war are nothing foreign to him. He grew up witnessing a lot of anger toward others. After the war (but not the conflict) ended in his country he moved to the US, where he witnessed up close a world known to him before only in movies. The resulting change in his worldview drove him to share his experiences in learning to understand “the other.” That’s how Jerusalem Spring was born. Fares is an accomplished artist and photographer. He enjoys traveling and cooking in his spare time.
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The warden and his wife, two people one might think the author would decide to make "mean characters", are actua...moreI like it when an author highlights an issue and makes it very clear to the reader. The book is set in the 1960's, the reader finds him/herself viewing a segregated prison. Two prisoners, numbers 13 and 12, have just been brought in with a group of new prisoners. The prisoners are overcrowded, the new prisoners, 13 and 12, never receive the food they are promised.
The warden and his wife, two people one might think the author would decide to make "mean characters", are actually the opposite. The wife and warden treat everyone the same regardless of race. The wife wants to leave the South permanently, unbeknownst to her the husband has already started this process. The warden is a bit of a softie, but he "reigns himself in" after a fire and kitchen fight break out. I was surprised that the previously peaceful warden treated the prisoners who were not the instigators so harshly. Joe, an inmate who receives books and even discusses possible college courses with the warden, is shocked as well. The story continues with further development of the characters and the plot.
The author is attempting to draw a parallel between the racial situation in the 1960's South and the current situation in the Middle East with the Palestinians. The writing is a little uneven and I had a hard time transitioning from the first part to the second (I think it was the same characters who confused me). This book left me with a lot of questions and the intense desire to research the situation (I knew a little about already) on the Internet. I think this is a wonderful read and would recommend it to young adults/adults alike. The meaning is crystal clear and the author does a great job portraying the situation in the Middle East with the Palestinians.
*Complimentary copy received for this review, does not affect my opinion in any way*
Part II of Jerusalem Spring swiftly jerks you into the present. The world has changed little in the Middle East, and prejudice still runs rife even in a society as advanced as ours has become. The sadness, the hunger, and the lack of understanding so often displayed to those of another race or religion is blended eloquently into this tale. Fares Aoun's skill as a wordsmith gives Jerusalem Spring a heart-wrenching leap from the backward mentality that still plagues the world, and makes the reader look at man in a completely new light. Compassion, humanity, and the human soul can change a person's entire outlook.
As Fares comments--
"My mom raised us to treat others the way we would want to be treated. My Dad taught us to tell the truth and stand up for the weak."
Hear, Hear, Fares...your parents are very wise!
I love when writers decide to use fiction to tell an opinion or express concern about some situation. Fares Aoun has created a powerful, brilliantly conceived method and story to do just that. I applaud this work and consider it a must-read, especially given I read the book from front to back in one sitting. The impact for me was dramatic; I hope the impact for some will be enlightening...
It is the 1960s and somewhere in the south, readers find themselves inside a segregated prison. A new group is coming in and we see how the all-white guards treat the new prisoners. There are two who are highlighted; one is very young and has been hurt somewhere and is in bad shape. Another who was on the bus is helping him. The identity of these individuals is "13," and "12," the latter.
Immediately trouble begins because 12 was trying to get somebody to help 13. There would be no doctor tonight, but the warden, at least, ordered that 13 be given food that night. He never received any from the guards. After the mandatory shower, etc., the guards literally pushed them forward into a room at which other prisoners stood at the bars and quickly closed the door. They were in a large, long hallway; the prison was extremely overcrowded and though the warden kept insisting that no further men be sent there, nothing changed.
Needing to know his present situation, 12 immediately started to look and walk around and when no food came, he tried to find somebody to help 13.
Finally, he came upon one man in a cell--all the doors were kept open so the crowded group could at least move around, but the toilets were broken and the smell horrendous.
Joe was alone in his cell with stacks and stacks of books. Everybody knew that he was this warden's inside man, but at least he got one slice of bread for 13.
The warden and his wife were both individuals who did not discriminate nor feel differently about those of other races. His wife wanted to leave the south and go somewhere else and start a family because of the tense racial situation. Unknown to his wife, the warden had already started the transfer process months ago; but he didn't want to raise her hopes. The warden was a good man most of the time; he hated what he sometimes had to become in order to do his job. But when a fire, and then a kitchen riot erupted, he became who he felt he had to be to do his job. And then hated his actions because they were similar to his father's...
Even Joe was surprised at how the warden was treating those who had been caught in the riot, even if they personally hadn't been the instigators. For Joe and the warden had become at least cordial and the warden got Joe his books and was even discussing his taking college courses...
Readers may stumble just as Part II begins in present time but will quickly continue on.
Because, actually, the same story continues! Yes, there are a few slight changes--Joe is now called Yusef. The prison becomes a "camp" of people. Scott is still waiting to transfer...
From the author (p. 223, Acknowledgments) "My mom raised us to treat others the way we would want to be treated. My Dad taught us to tell the truth and stand up for the weak." From the Dedication--...this book [is dedicated] to my children and to every child throughout the world with the hope that we adults will give them a better place to live.
I pray with that hope too... If you also have hope...read this book and share it. I'm also hoping the author's next book runs along similar lines! Can there ever be a happy ending? I have a feeling this author has much to say to the world...and I want to read it!
Book Received Via
G. A. Bixler
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After reading the description on the back of the book, I was quite puzzled, what with...Read more