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Pnina Kass, who lives in Israel, delivers an even-handed and powerful portrayal of the complex world her characters inhabit. Chilling, suspenseful, and frighteningly real, this novel could be the back story behind tomorrow's news.
"exhausting but illuminating...characters are deeply developed and painfully sympathetic as they find that they are inextricably and unexpectedly connected." SLJ School Library Journal
"Timely novel explores the effects of a terrorist act from multiple points of view" PW Publishers Weekly
"shows how drastically lives can change from moment to the next...make(s) a strong impression" HORN BOOK Horn Book
"Good reading for thoughtful teens." VOYA VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
"Tense, terrifying...stories draw readers in...unforgettable is the grief and the chaos of the bombing and its aftermath." BOOKLIST Booklist, ALA
SUNDAY, APRIL 9
5:00 AM Thomas Wanninger Departure Terminal, Schonefeld Airport
"First trip to Israel?"
I hand it over.
He opens it. He looks at the passport photo, looks at me, looks at the
photo. "Born in Germany?"
"What is the purpose of your visit?"
"I"ll be a volunteer at a kibbutz."
"Broshim. It"s outside Jerusalem."
"Can you show me proof of that?"
I unzip my backpack and stick my hand in. I can feel the sports magazine,
the guidebook. I look sideways inside—there"s a pack of tissues, some stuff
from school I"m supposed to read, chewing gum . . . junk . . . junk . . . where
did I put the letter from the kibbutz? I see him watching me as if I"m some
kind of suspect. Suddenly I think—he"s not going to let me on the plane.
"Maybe you should empty your backpack, Thomas?"
I slide the backpack off my shoulder and squat on the ground.
He isn"t taking his eyes off me for a minute. Another guy comes over, looks
at me, and then whispers something into his ear. He nods and shows this
guy my passport and airplane ticket. The guy walks away. My T-shirt is
sticking to my armpits. Everything is on the floor. Then I see the pale blue
information booklet and the letter is sticking out of it.
"Here it is." I hand it to him. I"m still squatting, waiting.
He looks at it, reads it. "Okay, put your stuff back in."
I jam everything into the backpack and stand up.
"Who packed your suitcase?"
"Did anyone give you a gift or a package or any item to deliver when you
"You"re sure about that?"
"Do you have any relatives in Israel?"
"No—I"m not Jewish." I want him to believe me. He looks at me like he
"For your information, there are non-Jews living in Israel. There are Christians,
Muslims, Greek Orthodox, Druse—do you want me to continue?" He doesn"t
wait for my answer.
He looks at me, lifts the suitcase, turns it around, sees the yellow security
sticker, puts it down. "Do you speak Arabic?"
"Arabic? No, of course I don"t know Arabic!"
"All right. I"m just asking."
"Well, I don"t know Arabic and I don"t know Hebrew. I speak German, like
we"re talking now, right? And English." By now I"m sure I"m not going
anywhere. In an hour I"ll probably be back home. The people in line behind
me are staring at me. Like I have a rash, like they"re going to catch
something from me. No one"s missing a single one of his questions or my
And then suddenly he hands back my passport, my ticket, and the kibbutz
letter. Doesn"t smile, just says, "Okay, you can go." It"s over. He starts
questioning the person in line behind me. Whatever he thought of me, of my
passport, of what I looked like, it"s history now. I can get on the plane.
* * *
5:45 AM Thomas Wanninger El Al flight 01: SXF–TLV (Berlin–Tel Aviv)
The seat belt sign blinks red, the airplane engines start to roar, the plane
begins to taxi. The flight attendants are walking down the aisle, chatting with
passengers, adjusting overhead bins, checking seat belts. Somewhere in the
front of the plane a baby is squealing and then beginning to cry. I see the
mother start to get up, but the flight attendant points to the lit seat belt sign.
She sits down again.
I"m watching and listening to everything, I"m hyped up. Everything around me
looks like it is in fluorescent lights, and sounds are funneling through me on
high volume. I"m going to a place I don"t know, to find out something that no
one at home knows, and if anyone thinks I"m calm, they"re wrong.
I"ve flown only once before, on a school ski trip. But it isn"t the same this
time, I"ll be entering a war zone. And I"m alone. There are flight
announcements about the altitude of the plane, the weather, and perfume and
cigarettes that will be sold duty free. Maybe I"ll buy Mutti a bottle of perfume—
my mother likes scent. Then the pilot announces the estimated time of
The plane reaches the end of the runway and lifts off, tilting away from the
ground slowly with almost no angle. It"s six o"clock in the morning. Four more
hours and I"ll land in Israel. The announcement continues: "Local Israeli time
is one hour ahead." I change the time on my watch. I"ve left German time
behind. I have the whole row to myself. I stretch my legs and stare out the
The plane is cruising over the city. Berlin is concealed behind a thin veil of
rain. Through the morning darkness I can see the dots of highway lights and
the snaking line of traffic. Mutti must be in her car, driving in one of those
lanes leading away from the airport. She probably won"t go back home—she
hates an empty house. If I know her, she"ll go to the office, or travel to one of
the branches of Hanseatic Insurance, or schedule a meeting with her boss.
Mutti has to be busy. She says, "When I work, I forget."
The plane starts a steep climb, moves through clusters of clouds, and then
pulls out into clear sky. Past my own reflection in the window it"s all blue air,
the color of early morning. Beyond the wing the blue is beginning to lighten.
Somewhere the morning has started. It will be late morning when I arrive. The
engines become a monotonous drone.
I unzip my backpack and take out the pamphlet. I don"t bother unfolding it.
I"ve read it and stared at the pictures a hundred times. The green rolling
Judean Hills, the distant outlines of Jerusalem, the orderly row of red-roofed
kibbutz houses, the auditorium, the guest hostel where I"ll be staying. To
myself, and only to myself, I am willing to admit I"m scared out of my mind.
Not to Mutti, not to Rudi, even though he"s my best buddy, and certainly not
The time off from school wasn"t tough to get. The principal is really hot on us
going to Israel. No generation of Germans should forget is his motto. The real
reason I"m going is my business. And I can"t be a coward.
So here I am, about to land in a country where bombs go off every five
seconds. Why am I doing this? Because I"m looking for information about a
One more time I read the letter I showed the security guy:
Welcome to the SEEK program (See-Explore-Educate-Know) at Kibbutz
Broshim, located outside Jerusalem. Our mailing address is Kibbutz
Broshim, Doar Na 832, Jerusalem, Israel. Since you indicated an interest in
agricultural work, we have arranged for you to work in the hothouses and
plant nursery. Kibbutz Broshim exports flowers, and your help will be greatly
appreciated. You will be instructed by Baruch Ben Tov, a very experienced
I reread the instructions for what I"m supposed to do when I land, though I
know them by heart:
"After landing and passing through Passport Control, look for someone
holding a "SEEK" sign. This will be Vera Brodsky, who lives at Kibbutz
Broshim and will be your "buddy" during your stay. Vera will be waiting for
you inside the arrivals terminal of the airport. In case of any change, call 02-
I shift around in the seat and feel the bulge in the back pocket of my jeans.
The airplane ticket and passport—I forgot to put them back in the zippered
pouch of my backpack. That"s all I need, to lose my ticket and passport. The
passport is dark red, with a stiff cover and a gold embossed eagle in the
center. Printed underneath the eagle emblem, in big letters, is
BUNDESREPUBLIK DEUTSCHLAND. I run my fingers over the spread
wings. Eagles are birds of prey, aren"t they? Why does a German passport
have an eagle on the cover? Was my grandfather a bird of prey, waiting to
lunge and capture, maybe to kill?
I flip open my passport to the inside page:
FAMILIEN NAME Wanninger
The photo at the left of the typed information is me: unsmiling, brown eyes
opened wide by the flash of the camera, short hair, and part of a white T-shirt.
A high school kid who looks older than sixteen—at least that"s what people
* * *
6:45 AM Interrogation room, police headquarters, Jerusalem
POLICE OFFICER: You understand you"re not under arrest, don"t you?
OMAR JOULANI: If you say so.
POLICE OFFICER: Of course we say so. Why would we lie? We just want
information. You live in the same village as Sameh Laham, right?
OMAR JOULANI: No, in Jabel Fahm. And you know it. You know everything.
But we go to the same high school. When there"s no curfew. It"s our last year.
POLICE OFFICER: Why aren"t you in school today?
OMAR JOULANI: How can I be in school if you brought me here? Anyway, I
don"t go to school. Instead I work. I study at
night. you? Your buddy, Rashid, said you were the best student in
OMAR JOULANI: Rashid is a liar and a stinking little thief. You have him in
jail, and he"ll say anything.
POLICE OFFICER: He says you know how to explode bombs, Omar. He
says you have a real touch with them. You get high as if you"re on drugs
when you make them.
OMAR JOULANI: You"re trying to get me to say I"m one of those—a
shaheed. I won"t say it. I"m not. I sell vegetables with my grandfather.
POLICE OFFICER: Where is Sameh?
OMAR JOULANI: I told you, I don"t know. Go to the Jewish man who is his
POLICE OFFICER: We don"t know who that is. No one ever heard of Sameh.
So, Omar, it seems your best friend has disappeared.
(Suspect looks at the floor and does not respond.)
POLICE OFFICER: Three days and no one knows where he is.
OMAR JOULANI: Sameh has a cousin in a village near Jerusalem. Maybe
he went there.
POLICE OFFICER: What is the name of the village?
OMAR JOULANI: I can"t remember.
POLICE OFFICER: Try. Try very hard.
OMAR JOULANI: Please let me go home. I"m sure Sameh will show up
today. You"ll see.
POLICE OFFICER: Why do you say that? Why are you so sure?
OMAR JOULANI: They are without food in his family. He must work.
POLICE OFFICER: We can keep you longer—you know that.
OMAR JOULANI: I know that. But I know nothing. Nothing. Please.
POLICE OFFICER: Release him.
* * *
6:45 AM Baruch Ben Tov Kibbutz Broshim, Judean Hills
The boy from Germany is coming today. His arrival throws me back into the
past. He"s not the first German student to come here, but he"s the first who
will work in the flower fields and hothouses. The first who will be under my
supervision. Of course I was consulted. Will you mind working with a German
boy, Baruch? I was asked. No, of course not, I answered. I am a member of
the kibbutz and will do my share. But I am uneasy. What will this Thomas
Wanninger say when he sees the number on my arm? Will he foolishly
apologize? Will he speak to me in German? Does he know I speak German?
It is an intrusion in my life. I will speak to him in English.
The sun has risen, warming the air and making the last of the night sky very
light. I hear the birds speak to each other, the dew hangs transparent from
each petal, the sprinklers whirr in the still spring air. I always walk up and
down the rows of sunflowers at this hour. No one is here. I can say, "Rachel,
Ruchele," and no one hears me. Her name is my morning prayer.
Rachel was wonderful with her hands. She would have planted sunflowers
and dahlias, petunias, daisies, everything. Even in the room under the roof
she painted flowers on the enamel plates we ate from. Her hands were like
the wind and her imagination endless. She turned the attic into our palace.
What she would have made of this solitary place, this small house I live in!
And books—goodness, how she loved books.
Excerpted from Real Time by Kass, Pnina Moed Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted February 17, 2010
Real Time by Kass is the separate journeys of a few characters that end up being connected through an act of terrorism. Each characters story is told in distinct and separate parts, which are separated, by the first person actions of the character and the time and date. The three main characters are teenagers in which one is trying to erase the memories of the holocaust, another is trying to escape from her parents and the memory of her one true love who committed suicide, and the last is trying to solve the mystery of who is Nazi Officer grandfather really was. This book is quit graphic in the aspect of violence. It is also explores many different religions and cultures that are very foreign to most Americans. In being such a graphic and culturally diverse book, it is a great window into modern day Israel and Palestine. Although the first person narrative and multiple character stories make this story quite confusing at times; and the content of the book is quit foreign and violent at times, this book is a great read for young adults. Kass has given readers an opportunity to see inside a turmoil stricken country and to place a face and personality with the people seen on the news everyday.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
"Real Time" by Pnina Moed Kass takes place in present day Israel. The storyline it presents confronts mature themes including war, violence, hatred, and coming to terms with one's troubled past. The story is told from several different points of view in first person in real time, literally, as the story is unfolding. All the different viewpoints could make for a rather challenging read to younger readers. They also make for a slow-moving first eighty pages or so because it takes a little while for the reader to orient themselves to all the different characters and their backgrounds. Once the reader gains their bearings and the book progresses further into the plot, it moves along much quicker and is much more satisfying.
The book has kind of a philosophical approach when it comes to discussing the themes of war, violence, etc. It also contains a few graphic depictions of violence.
I would not recommend this novel to reluctant young readers because of the difficulties experienced when beginning to read the novel and getting acquainted with all of the character. Also, it doesn't move too quickly in the beginning and doesn't provide the kind of stimulation that might be necessary to hold the attention of more reluctant readers.
I would, however, recommend it to eager young adult readers. But I would strongly suggest providing a history lesson along with the book (as it relates to the violent interaction between Palestinians and Israelites). Furthermore, relating it to other current events taking place in Israel or the Middle East would give the readers some experience in the kind of real-life atrocities that inspired this literature. Finally, it is of the utmost importance that with these lessons a section on morality/ethics/virtue be provided.
Posted February 9, 2010
Pnina Moed Kass' "Real Time" follows several different people as they are unwittingly involved with a terrorist attack by one of the main characters of the book. Each of the characters in the book have their own reasons for being where they are at or doing what they are doing. Their reasons are justified through first person segments that take place over a period of five days. The plot is developed through these segments, and are separated by the time these events take place. However, this can be somewhat confusing as the segments are rarely longer than a page or two which seems to lead to the author forcing in certain information while leaving much out.
Another jarring aspect about the book is the (mostly) consistent first person narrative of the story. What is so disruptive about it it that each of the many different characters tell their stories through this first person narrative. While this might be more of a personal preference a third person point of view could very well make the novel more accessible to young readers. Unfortunately the first person narrative also leads to some fairly bland characters. Slowly, over the course of the novel, the characters develop into their own but even after reading the novel few of the characters have faces.
The real strength of "Real Time" is the message being sent through its pages. The violence, as seen through the eyes of people that many young adults can easily relate to, helps to explain the actions of some to those who might be unfamiliar with the personal choices made by others.
Posted February 9, 2010
In this novel Kass explores Isreal through several teens. The reader gets the views through several teens trying to find themselves, all the while a terrorist attack is about them. One is trying to erase the holocaust memories he has. The other trying to find out the truth about his grandfather who was a Nazi officer, and the last trying to escape her memory of her parents and boyfriend who commits suicide. The book is aimed at a more mature audience because it does have a great deal of violence and a cruelty to it. It does a decent job trying to stay nuetral throughout the story as there are so many different backgrounds the characters come from. Keen does a good job portraying Isreal in it's current state and gives us insight into other similar crises throught diverse characters. The novel definetly has a place on the shelf given the current state of things in the east. It gives us good insight and thought to things people go through over seas, especially teens who are trying to sort through their issues. I would recommend it for the young adult reader as they can relate to many things that are going on.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 8, 2010
When I first picked up Real Time, I thought this book was going to be exclusively about Jewish communities and the Nazi's that invaded them (which was definitely not the gist of what the book was about at all). I honestly didn't even give the back of the novel a chance before I dived in, which was a bad idea because I was immediately confused about several things; When the heck is this all taking place? Who are all of these characters, and what do they have to do with the first one I was introduced to? I guess that's the downfall of writing in first-person though, because a character can simply leave important details out that would help while one is actually reading the book. It also wasn't about the kind of Nazi story I was expecting to read about, instead taking place in Jerusalem and the Middle East.
In all, I thought the writing was decent; easy for a younger student to read and understand. The situations that the characters were put through were intense and realistic, giving me insight to several different takes on what happened instead of one exclusive experience. This is nice, I think, because it's then hard to pick a single side and stick with it. It gives kids choices and options, so they can choose their own opinion and go with it instead of having it done for them.
For someone who is interested in Nazis and the Middle East, this may be a good book for you. However, it is certainly not the best thing I've ever read. The varying between POV gets confusing, there are parts where the author is suddenly switching to scripted writing (not often, but it still bothered me), and it could use a bit more explanation IN the book about these events, as well as other little details that would otherwise make it a great read. The story itself is intriguing, just not for my personal taste.
Posted February 8, 2010
Real Time was decent, overall. It did not necessarily pull me in from page one. I did enjoy it however; it was not until about eighty pages in until it actually began to intrigue me. There were only a few characters I felt that were really developed, however, those characters were what compelled me to turn the page. The beginning of the novel was confusing. It was hard to keep all the names and locations straight, especially when a character's perspective is only given once or twice. I felt that the story might have been easier to read, had it only followed a few of those characters perspectives. That would have been much more efficient rather than trying to remember insignificant characters. The book did read a little slow, however, it began to pick up in the end. The historical content behind the novel was interesting, but I felt it could have been more in depth. I feel for Young Adult Literature, this novel would not be the best at grabbing their attention, unless one has a specific interest in Isreal or the historical issues Real Time covers. For an excessive reader, it is worth a read, a reluctant reader on the other hand, I would not bother.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 4, 2009
Set in contemporary Israel, "Real Time", is told from the perspectives of several characters. Readers get to know each character by thoughts, actions, and beliefs, and become apart of their identities. Kass' brilliant work helps readers not only put themselves in the shoes of the characters in the book, but also in the lives of people who are living in a world different from ours. The suspense and actions of the book make it impossible to put down, as well as wanting to know more about the relatable characters. Although designed for young adults, and obviously a perfect book to be taught in classrooms today, this book should be read by everyone. It is important for us, especially U.S. citizens, away from war to see what's going on in real life outside of the media, but instead inside the lives of others.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 25, 2009
Real Time was an excellent read after fifty pages in.
When I first picked up the book, it didn't draw me in. There were many different characters with different stories and I wasn't sure who was who at first. However, after about the first fifty pages, it becomes clearer and you can really enjoy the story.
I also found the beginning to be a bit slow, but after the main plot begins to pick up, it becomes extremely interesting. The ending seemed rushed and unfinished, but I rather enjoyed the openness of it.
I think this is a good Young Adult Literature book. It's not the best, but it's definitely worth a read.
Posted February 23, 2009
Real Time is broken into five days and each day is subtitled by time, place and person. Minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, Real Time follows the lives of a German teen, a Jewish Russian woman, a concentration camp survivor, a Palestinian teen, and others until all their lives converge in a single moment: a bus bomb explosion on the streets of Jerusalem. Real Time illustrates the difficulties and dangers of living and working in and around modern Israel for Israelis and Palestinians. Kass does a great job of giving the Israeli point of view, and shows the frustrating red tape a Palestinian must go through to work in Israel, but the importance of the Palestinian plight and the substance of their claims is under valued with the representation of the miss guided Palestinian teen. He thinks he will secure money for his family and gain recognition for himself by being a suicide bomber. There is no mention of "why" Palestinians use terrorist tactics against Israel. As much as Kass tries to give both sides of the story, Real Time falls a little short on the Palestinian side.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 14, 2008
REAL TIME is set in contemporary Israel, telling a story in real time, in which the lives of so many people come together, minute by minute. The narration switches back and forth between several different characters, telling one story but also many stories. <BR/><BR/>These characters include Thomas, a German boy who has come to Israel looking for answers about his family. Baruch, a Holocaust survivor who now works on a kibbutz. Vera, another kibbutz worker who is finding her Jewish roots and escaping her tragic past in Odessa. Sameh, a Palestinian working illegally at a diner. Saheh's friend Omar, a reporter, and many, many others. All of these people are different, looking for different things, but there is a moment when all of their lives come together, and it is a tragedy. <BR/><BR/>So much sadness, so much despair, is evident. Can there be healing and hope for those who survive this tragedy? Only time will tell. <BR/><BR/>This novel is a breathtaking story, but it's more than that. For one thing, it's a behind-the-scenes look at what is usually seen only on television. And yet it's more than behind-the-scenes; it's the secrets, thoughts, hopes, and dreams of every person involved. The way this story is told, in (as the title suggests) real time, switching back and forth between several narrators, is a part of what makes it amazing. If just one character told the story, so many aspects of it would not be seen. Pnina Kass Moed is a brilliant writer, and the story she tells in REAL TIME is equally brilliant.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 28, 2007
Well i thought this book would have been better if there wasnt so much going on. It would have been better if they would have less stuff going on, and didnt stop going from one side to other.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 13, 2005
Told in first person by eight people, including a Holocaust survivor, a young Russian woman who immigrants to Israel to escape personal tradegy, a German schoolboy on a mission, Palestinian youths for whom martyrdom is 'real' and others, Ms Kass takes the reader on an unforgetable journey from World War II to the present. The actual story covers just five days, but the unfolding of past events in the characters' lives makes 'REAL TIME' real to the reader.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 16, 2010
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