Look for Me

Look for Me

by Edeet Ravel
     
 

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In a love story framed by the vivid realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Edeet Ravel tenderly explores the complicated ways people connect when violence touches every aspect of their lives

Dana Hillman is a young Israeli woman whose humanity and passion for justice are obvious to all who meet her. On peace missions, she and other activists act as

Overview

In a love story framed by the vivid realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Edeet Ravel tenderly explores the complicated ways people connect when violence touches every aspect of their lives

Dana Hillman is a young Israeli woman whose humanity and passion for justice are obvious to all who meet her. On peace missions, she and other activists act as human shields in situations where the Israeli army tries to displace Palestinians. A gifted photographer, she documents the protests, and the faces of women and children caught in the seemingly endless struggle. To make a living, though, she churns out junky historical romances, well aware of the irony of her situation. Her own love story has turned into a heartbreaking mystery: why did her husband, Daniel, suddenly disappear and where has he been for the last eleven years?

Every year Dana publishes a full-page ad addressed to her lost husband that says, "I will never ever ever ever . . . stop waiting for you," with that "ever" multiplied to fill the whole page. Dana's hope and constancy fill the novel in the way that her "ever" fills up the page, as she holds fast to trust, love and a vision for the future that seems magical in this fractured place.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This follow-up to Ravel's much-admired Ten Thousand Lovers (2003) strikes many of the same notes as the previous novel, albeit with lesser force and resonance. Once again, love is at stake against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as an impetuous young woman is separated from her older lover by violence and politics. Dana Hillman has been searching for her husband, Daniel, for 11 years, ever since he was horribly burned in an Israeli Army accident and subsequently disappeared. Believing him to still be alive, she searches for clues and takes out full-page ads in the newspapers asking him to return. To pay the bills, she writes romance novels in English. She also joins with other members of the Israeli left at demonstrations and engages in lukewarm affairs with fellow protestors Beatrice and Rafi. In Ten Thousand Lovers, Ravel-a Canadian who grew up in Israel-seamlessly wove Israeli culture and politics with details of the everyday lives of both Jews and Arabs. This time around, she achieves a less perfect union of ideas, plot and character; Dana's idealized, sometimes whiny search for Daniel is hard to applaud, and its resolution feels hurried and improbable. This is the second of three planned novels about war and its impact on the region, leaving open the possibility that Ravel will return to form in the next installment. Agent, Richard Curtis. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Like its predecessor, Ten Thousand Lovers, this arresting second novel in a trilogy unfolds in Israel, where the relative comforts of urban life stand in stark contrast with the dangers of settlements and Palestinian communities. Narrator Dana is a thirtysomething photographer, peace activist, and "widow." Her beloved husband, Daniel, vanished 11 years ago after suffering serious burns in an accident during army reserve duty, and Dana has been searching for him ever since. When she finally discovers his address, though, she has begun to forge a new life, and so, bound to suffer either way, she must choose between loyalties. Like Israel itself, Dana is caught in a double bind, victim to irreconcilable loves and duties. Born on a kibbutz, peace worker Ravel earned a Ph.D. in Jewish studies from McGill University, and it's no surprise that the searing immanence of her personal experience and her polished prose converge to make a truly compelling book. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic collections carrying works by writers like A.B. Yehoshua.-Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A woman conducts an 11-year search for her missing husband only to find him hiding in plain sight: another tale of love gone awry in Israel from kibbutz-raised Canadian Ravel (Ten Thousand Lovers, 2003). Dana Hillman's husband Daniel was burned in a freak accident during army reserve duty. She was barred from seeing him at the hospital, from which he soon vanished. Assuming that he left because he feared his disfigurement would repel her, Dana places yearly, full-page newspaper ads declaring, "I will never ever ever ever stop waiting for you." Daniel has a mail-drop address she's never been able to trace, and a private investigation has turned up nothing. Several brushes with army intelligence lead Dana tantalizingly close to Daniel's whereabouts, but she always comes up against an unspeakable truth her informants balk at revealing. The story's present-time action spans ten days, and the first half alternates between scenes from her seven years with Daniel and her current peripatetic life as one of an embattled cadre of Israeli peace advocates. Terse, serviceable prose and somewhat stilted dialogue carry us through Dana's everyday drama, as she photographs acts and symbols of resistance at pro-Palestinian "demos," writes romance novels for hire, and copes with the other denizens of her beachfront apartment building, all of whom lend new gloss to the phrase "quirky alone." Welcome diversions include tips on how to make chai-like cafe au lait, how to use onion slices to counteract tear gas, and how to write sex scenes the way Jane Austen would have, maybe. A fellow activist with whom Dana falls in conflicted love has a friend with connections, and Daniel's location is finally leaked. Thenovel races to a conclusion as Dana's beau geste at a checkpoint nearly scuttles her quest, but the longed-for reunion lacks emotional weight. Ravel has failed to convince us that Daniel was really missing, or much missed. Enthralling setting in search of lifelike major characters. Agent: Richard Curtis/Curtis Agency
From the Publisher
“This is a novel with a strong moral centre, one that argues forcibly and honourably for an end to hatred and violence.”
The Globe and Mail

Look for Me is a compelling book about a complex situation… It is eminently readable and interesting, in all the best senses of that word.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“Ravel moves effortlessly from the larger to the smaller picture, bringing us a fascinating perspective of someone living the politics of one of the world’s most notorious hot spots amidst a daily life of much personal eccentricity.”
Quill & Quire

“Ravel provides an insider’s view of what it’s like to live inside Israel, land of beach walks, job worries, stun grenades and missing husbands.”
Toronto Star

Praise for Ten Thousand Lovers:
“This is a brave and beautiful book.” — Nancy Richler, The Globe and Mail

“A must-read for anyone who likes a love story and who cares about justice, humanity, and the state of the world.” — Mary Soderstrom, Quill & Quire

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060586225
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/10/2004
Series:
Tel Aviv Trilogy
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Look for Me
A Novel

Chapter One

I woke up and didn't know where I was. This happens to me frequently: I emerge in stages from a deep sleep and I can't remember what time of day it is, or what life I'm living. Am I in my parents' seven-room flat in the desert, waking to a breakfast of rolls and butter and nine percent cheese or living with neighbors who are tiptoeing around my sofa be so as not to disturb me, or in my army cot, facing a day of cleaning toilets because I'm in trouble with my sergeant again Or have I woken in some altogether unknown place, where people wear black capes, say, and hop from place to place instead of walking?

This process of relocating myself never lasts more than a few seconds. I knew where I was: the bedroom of our U-shaped flat near the sea. It was Saturday morning, the beginning of September, and I had a demonstration to photograph in Mejwan. Odelia was coming at eight-thirty to collect me.

I sat up in bed. When my husband lived with me I'd wear one of his T-shirts to sleep, but after he vanished I started sleeping naked. I wanted to feel closer to him, wherever he was; if he came during the night I would be prepared. It was just a fantasy, of course. I knew Daniel would not appear suddenly at the stroke of midnight, the way some of the characters in my novels liked to do.

I slipped on my bathrobe and raised the blackout shutters. Bright sunlight flooded the room and settled on the dusty heartshaped leaves of my climbing plants. "Leaves deserve to be noticed," Daniel had said, cryptically at first, when he painted one of the bedroom walls black. He hung a mirror in the center; and arranged the plants so they framed the mirror and spread outward until they covered the entire wall, heart-shaped green against night-black, our own reflection peeping at us from the midst of a leafy jungle.

I put on the kettle and while I waited for the water to boil I wrote down a dream I'd had in a notebook I kept for that purpose. I'd decorated the notebook with a color printout of Raphael's Madonna with the Fish, which seemed somehow appropriate. I began recording my dreams when I was fourteen and my mother died in a traffic accident. For several weeks she came to life each night as I slept, and in the morning I would try to recapture our nocturnal encounters so I could relive the experience, and also because I wanted to understand the dreams, which were often perplexing. In one she was riding on a seashell and she called out, "Don't forget Lord Kitchener!" In another she told me to wash my hair in a kneeling position, never while standing.

This morning, just before waking, I dreamed that I was at the Munjed checkpoint, a checkpoint I'd photographed a few times. I was climbing the watchtower to get a better angle, and the border guards were telling me to watch out for electric wires. I wondered whether they were afraid they'd be blamed if I was electrocuted, or whether they really were worried about me. I tried to find a good angle for my photograph, but realized it was hopeless because there were seven thousand Palestinians below, lined up and waiting for their IDs, which had been confiscated. I called down to the guards, "How come you've detained so many today?" and they answered, "It's the drugs we've taken, they multiply everything seven thousand times." I tried to figure out how their hallucinations could affect my own vision, and the effort to introduce waking-life logic into the dream woke me.

*

I left the army to marry my husband. He was the lead singer of the band at my cousin's wedding and I could not take my eyes off him: his dark brown hair and David Bowie eyes, that smile of his as he sang. It was an extravagant wedding at one of the most ritzy halls in the country-my aunt and uncle were wealthy, and their daughter was spoiled. The small, laid-back band was noticeably out of place in this gilded setting: three musicians perched on a little wooden platform, all wearing jeans, short-sleeved white shirts, and black vests. One of the musicians was a multitalented albino with shoulder-length white hair; he played drums, sax, and keyboard. The other was chubby, with raisin eyes and sweet dimples, and the confidence to shake and bounce about as he strummed his guitar.

There was dancing at the wedding, of course, but the band didn't follow the standard wedding repertoire. No zesty religious chants, no inspirational nationalist classics, none of the traditional tunes that were considered a must at any celebration. Instead, Daniel sang contemporary songs about waking up in the middle of the night with a feeling of dread, or going to airports to watch planes taking off. He sang my favorite song at the time, "Seer, Go Flee." When he came to those words I knew I had to have him. Seer, go flee. For there is no mercy in this city, and no place to hide. Seer, go flee.

I waited until the band began to fold up and then shyly approached him. I didn't want to say anything in front of the other two musicians, but I knew that if I didn't speak up they'd all be gone in a matter of minutes, leaving me alone in the empty auditorium.

Daniel looked at me. He seemed amused for some reason, maybe because of the contrast between my uniform and the confused, unsoldierly way I was standing next to the platform. "Can I help you with something?" he asked.

"I was wondering ..."

But now all three performers were looking at me.

"It's private," I said.

"Oh, private." Daniel smiled. He stepped down from the platform and walked away from the others. "Well?" he said ...

Look for Me
A Novel
. Copyright © by Edeet Ravel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Edeet Ravel was born on a Marxist kibbutz near the Lebanese border and lived there until she was seven, when her parents returned to their hometown, Montreal. Ravel studied English literature in Israel, and has also has an MA in creative writing and a PhD in Jewish studies. She divides her time between Canada and Israel, where she does intensive political peace work.

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