Enemy Territory


Trained to hate, two boys discover friendship instead.

Sam, an Israeli teen whose leg may have to be amputated, and Yusuf, a Palestinian teen who has lost his left eye, find themselves uneasy roommates in a Jerusalem hospital. One night, the boys decide to slip away while the nurses aren't looking and go on an adventure to the Old City.

The escapade turns dangerous when they realize they're hopelessly lost. As they navigate the dark city--one ...

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Enemy Territory

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Trained to hate, two boys discover friendship instead.

Sam, an Israeli teen whose leg may have to be amputated, and Yusuf, a Palestinian teen who has lost his left eye, find themselves uneasy roommates in a Jerusalem hospital. One night, the boys decide to slip away while the nurses aren't looking and go on an adventure to the Old City.

The escapade turns dangerous when they realize they're hopelessly lost. As they navigate the dark city--one of them limping and the other half-blind--their suspicions of each other are diverted. They band together to find their way home and to defend themselves against unfriendly locals, arrest by the military police, and an encounter with a deadly desert snake. The boys' attempts to understand each other and the politics that divide them mirror the longstanding conflict in the Middle East.

This powerful story, touched with humor, demonstrates how individual friendships and experiences can triumph over enormous cultural and political differences and lead to understanding and compassion.

Praise for Sharon E. McKay's previous book, Thunder Over Kandahar:
This story, enhanced with black and white photographs and filled with drama and tension, realistically portrays contemporary life in Afghanistan. The oppression of women is one of the main issues in the book. Yasmine and Tamanna are brave young women with different opinions but with the same determination to overcome their struggles and hardships. Highly Recommended.
--Library Media Connection (starred review)

This suspenseful tale of two young women on their own in modern Afghanistan makes riveting reading.... Well stocked with credible cultural detail and enhanced by black-and-white chapterhead photos,
their high-tension odyssey leads to a violent climax and an aftermath marked by surprising twists. Readers will be caught up.

--Kirkus Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Quill and Quire - Cori Dusmann
The result is intense and leaves the reader with much to think about.
Canadian Children's Book News - Christina Minaki
Full of grit and bursts of well-placed humour, Enemy Territory is a characteristically bold, thought-provoking, important novel from an author and Canadian war artist unafraid to use controversial issues as a platform to educate and enlighten.
Canadian Materials - Rob Bittner
Telling the story with sensitivity and humour, McKay brings to life, through the young men, both the dangerous and precarious situation in Israel, and the value of friendship in the face of crisis and deep-seated cultural instability.
Library Media Connection - Susan Shaver
Two teenage boys, Sam, an Israeli Jew, and Yusef, a Muslim Palestinian, find themselves sharing a hospital room in West Jerusalem. Sam convinces Yusef to sneak out of the hospital with him, and the two set out for the Old City. What starts out as an adventure quickly develops into a dangerous journey. For a Palestinian traveling without official papers, Yusef fears arrest by the police; seeking help from locals proves threatening as well. The teens argue about their differences, yet all the while relying on each other. Eventually they realize that their lives are actually more similar than first thought... Recommended.
Resource Links - Kim Bewick
McKay weaves a story of depth and understanding, a beautiful portrait of reluctant friendship, of overcoming profound prejudices, misconceptions, and deep-seeded anger, even hate.
VOYA - Ed Goldberg
In Enemy Territory, fourteen-year-olds Sam, an Israeli, and Yusef, a West Bank Palestinian, meet at Hadassah Hospital, where they are roommates. Apparent victims of wounds inflicted by their own side, both boys have serious injuries: Sam's foot has a deep infection and may have to be amputated, and Yusef has lost one eye and is in danger of losing the other. Nightly, Sam slips out of his room to visit Alina, a teenage cancer patient. On their first night as roommates, he brings Yusef, who is smitten with Alina, having never talked to a girl nor seen one wearing a pink wig. Yusef and Sam sneak out of the hospital late at night, ostensibly in search of Jafar’s candy store in Jerusalem’s Old City to buy Alina candy, but really so Yusef can see the Holy City. Unlikely scenarios of the evening's events are used as a mechanism to reveal the lack of trust between the two boys. The author also illustrates the total misinformation and lack of information these boys have about the other’s culture and heritage. Obviously, Sam and Yusef represent Israelis and Palestinians as a whole. McKay ably, although unconvincingly, illustrates the deep-seated hatred and misinformation each side has for the other in the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Sam and Yusef are average fourteen-year-olds, arguing about Israel’s right or lack thereof to occupy the land, suicide bombers, religion, and culture. A fast read, Enemy Territory makes its point but is missing an engaging story. Ages 11 to 15.
Kirkus Reviews
Two boys who have been taught to hate each other are thrown together in a Jerusalem hospital. Sam, an Israeli teen, was struck by a military truck and does not want to lose his leg to amputation. Yusuf, a Palestinian teen, lost his left eye and is now fighting an infection that may spread to his brain. One night, for reasons of rebelliousness, curiosity and honor (and quite frankly, to impress a girl, an impulse that crosses all cultures), the two find themselves sneaking out of the hospital to explore the Old City. However, only a few steps in, they become lost, have to run from the police and face persecution for being together at every turn. With Yusuf hardly able to see and Sam hardly able to walk, getting back to the hospital seems impossible. In an adventure story set over the span of one night, McKay, who has proven her abilities to write about cultural discord (Thunder Over Kandahar, 2010), portrays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in incredibly human terms. There is blame and wariness between the two boys, but ultimately they must let go of learned prejudices and trust each other in order to survive. In this fast-paced narrative, Sam and Yusuf blur together at times--anger is a realistic, defining characteristic for both--but given the overarching theme, that confusion just may be the point. Slim but powerful. (map, notes, postscript) (Adventure. 10 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554514311
  • Publisher: Annick Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 7/24/2012
  • Pages: 184
  • Age range: 11 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Sharon E. Mckay is a bestselling, award-winning author. In her teens she spent summers witnessing sectarian violence in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has also spent time in the Occupied Territories and Israel. In 2009, she was named as a Canadian War Artist, the first writer to hold this title. She lives with her family in Kilbride, Ontario.

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