Netta Hofman's 17 year old brother Adam is missing in Los Angeles, and she begins to think that his pro-Israel rhetoric has gotten him kidnapped by Palestinians. Netta sets out to find her brother by recreating his contacts in the "dialogue" community, both online and at school. Along the way Netta, who is Israeli, meets and reluctantly befriends Laith, a Palestinian exchange student, and they realize that despite their opposite views on statehood rights in their respective homelands, they have more in common with each other than with the Americans around them. Admirers of Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye might have hoped to have found a mirror story in this one, but will be disappointed in many respects. Although the author tries to eliminate bias by giving voice to both political views, her characters do not fully breathe life into them. Perhaps due to the crisis unfolding in the story, the characters are never fully developed. One might also feel tricked by the irony-laden ending of the story, in which the jungle of the American city is the true villain. Educators should be cautioned against using this book in curriculum due to a few peculiar factual errors. To begin, "intifada" is translated as "Palestinian underground" when it is commonly known to mean "popular uprising" or "resistance". Ramallah is said to be the "headquarters of this Palestinian underground," when actually it is the seat of the Palestinian government, to date. 2003, Eerdmans Books,
Netta and her family have only lived in the States for a few months, having moved from Israel, when Netta's older brother Adam disappears. Since the father is a scientist working on projects that would be useful to Israel's defense, and since Adam is outspokenly pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian, it seems reasonable for the family and police to assume Palestinian terrorists may have been responsible for Adam's kidnapping. Days and then weeks go by, with no word. The story works as a mystery: Netta examines Adam's computer files for clues as to who he might be meeting; flyers are put up; an appeal is made on TV; Netta goes to club meetings Adam attended at his high school, asking for any information about him. She hasn't yet made many friends herself, but she and her mother start attending a temple in their desperation and she makes friends there with a girl who is in her class at school. Oddly enough, a Palestinian boy is in her class, from Ramallah. He tries to start talking to Netta, who at first is resistant to his interest in her�but he seems genuinely concerned about her missing brother and offers to help by going into chat rooms on the computer asking for any news from Palestinians about Netta's brother. Miklowitz, an experienced writer of YA novels, knows how to tell this suspenseful story well. She manages to convey the political issues separating Israelis and Palestinians without lecturing�this information unfolds naturally as the story is told. She succeeds in conveying the depth of passion felt on both sides of the issues, and at the end manages an ironic twist to the plot line. YAs will definitely like this well-written mystery. KLIATT Codes: J�Recommended for junior high schoolstudents. 2003, Eerdmans, 139p.,
Israeli �migr� Netta awakens one morning to discover that her older brother did not come home the night before. He is the life force of the family, an endearing class clown of sorts who is not afraid to speak his mind. Although Adam is popular at his Los Angeles high school, Netta suspects that perhaps some of his fellow students, particularly the Palestinian ones, have done him harm. As days turn into weeks, the usually reserved Netta secretly begins to investigate her brother's life, at school and on the Internet, finding possible leads to his whereabouts. She also begins a friendship with a Palestinian boy from her own school who offers his assistance in her search. As the mystery of Adam's disappearance draws to a close, the reader finds that Netta has become a stronger person, who will be there for her parents and who is also perhaps more willing to look at the Arab-Israeli struggle with an open mind. This short but thought-provoking book puts a personal face on an age-old conflict. The author, whose recent young adult titles include Masada (Eerdmans, 1998/VOYA February 1999) and Secrets in the House of Delgado (2001/VOYA December 2001), again focuses on a Jewish heroine whose family faces persecution and mystery. This enjoyable story is a good choice to spark lively discussions in the classroom. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Eerdmans, 139p, Beach
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Gr 9 Up-Age-old hostilities between Arabs and Israelis affect Netta when her 17-year-old brother Adam disappears in Los Angeles, soon after the family moves there from Israel. Despite being sure that Palestinians have kidnapped her brother, the girl slowly learns to trust a new Arab-American friend at school. A suspenseful, page-turning mystery. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.