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A Country Between: Making a Home Where Both Sides of Jerusalem Collide
     

A Country Between: Making a Home Where Both Sides of Jerusalem Collide

by Stephanie Salda?a
 

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"A Country Between reminds us that grief is as indispensable to joy as light is to shadow. Beautifully written, ardent and wise." —Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Secret Chord, People of the Book, and March

Moving her family to a war zone was not a simple choice, but she's determined

Overview

"A Country Between reminds us that grief is as indispensable to joy as light is to shadow. Beautifully written, ardent and wise." —Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Secret Chord, People of the Book, and March

Moving her family to a war zone was not a simple choice, but she's determined to find hope, love, and peace amid the conflict in the Middle East.

When young mother Stephanie Saldana finds herself in an empty house at the beginning of Nablus road—the dividing line between East and West Jerusalem—she sees more than a Middle Eastern flash point. She sees what could be home.

Before her eyes, the fragile community of Jerusalem opens, and she starts to build her family to outlast the chaos. But as her son grows, so do the military checkpoints and bomb sirens, and Stephanie must learn to bridge the gap between safety and home, always questioning her choice to start her family and raise her child in a country at war.

A Country Between is a celebration of faith, language, and family—and a mother's discovery of how love can fill the spaces between what was once shattered, leaving us whole once more.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/17/2016
This candid, tenderly rendered love story begins in a Syrian monastery, where Saldaña (Bread of Angels), a Texas-born journalist, falls for Frédéric, a French novice monk. Saldaña writes about both her growing adoration and her concerns, first as the two make a leap into marriage and then when, only months later, they settle in Israel. Thanks to Frédéric’s church connections and the first of many incredible coincidences, as Saldaña writes, they find a home owned by French-speaking nuns on 2,000-year-old Nablus Road, on the Palestinian side of the city. The house is a microcosm unto itself, the first floor occupied by an Arab grocery store and Mexican nuns with a hidden garden. Saldaña nicely describes the people in her neighborhood, such as the falafel seller and town crier who reports on everyone’s comings and goings, as well as the shops with old Chanukah chocolates, Christmas decorations, and Israeli and Arab products side-by-side. In time, the couple’s bond with the people of Nablus Road solidifies; the Palestinian community embraces them, especially after they have a son. A year later, fighting between Israel and Hamas endangers the neighborhood. Saldaña describes in wonderful detail how, as their family expands, they stay in a place where so little makes sense, guided solely by their hope in the future. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Thoughtful, candid and achingly lovely, A Country Between celebrates the moments of beauty and truth that appear even--or especially--in broken and hard places, bringing light and healing in unexpected ways.
" - Shelf Awareness for Readers, STARRED review

"Saldaña builds an impressive sense of genuine emotion, and she vividly explores the array of life in that seething section of Jerusalem...a serene memoir in which the author takes valuable time to regard the character of the Palestinian people and their way of life. " - Kirkus-STARRED review

""This fascinating book captures the reality of living in colliding worlds...Saldana's observations about the realities of marriage, motherhood, and aging...offer the sense of having had a uplifting conversation with a thoughtful soul. Rather than attempting to answer political questions about the region, Saldana shares a curious kind of hope by showing how life goes on no matter the circumstances... readers gain a deeper understanding of love and faith."

" - Booklist, STARRED review

"This candid, tenderly rendered love story begins in a Syrian monastery, where Saldaña (Bread of Angels), a Texas-born journalist, falls for Frédéric, a French novice monk...Saldaña describes in wonderful detail how, as their family expands, they stay in a place where so little makes sense, guided solely by their hope in the future." - Publishers Weekly

"If an angel were to write a book, this would be it. Stephanie Saldana's memoir of her years as a young bride and new mother on Jerusalem's Nablus Road is infused with grace, rich in wisdom. With her French husband, a former novice monk, she makes a home on one of the fault lines where the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Muslims and Christians sometimes mesh, but often collide. A Country Between reminds us that grief is as indispensable to joy as light is to shadow. Beautifully written, ardent and wise.
" - Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Secret Chord, People of the Book, and March

"A book you can't put down. This is a gift of sweetness and light in a troubled time." - Julia Alvarez, bestselling author of In the Time of Butterflies and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

"Stephanie Saldana's astonishing gifts of perception and potent description make A Country Between feel like the country we would all prefer to live in. These elegant pages, replete with mystery, surprise, secret messages tucked inside every day, and the tender love of parents for one another and for the precious children they nurture and educate in Jerusalem, a most difficult, crucially beloved city, make us homesick for something better." - Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Habibi

"A testament to the couple's full embrace of peace and a commitment to living the lives they chose together...this book about hope in uncertain times reads especially poignantly for anyone looking darkly at the future.

" - Library Journal

"When we read or see TV reports about conflict in the Middle East, we would do well to remember that real people with real hopes and dreams are in many ways at the center of the story...there also are families like Stephanie Saldaña's, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or something else. And this book makes those families much more understandable." - Bill's "Faith Matters" Blog

"The writing of the book is gorgeous. There is the travel aspect of the book certainly but there is also a very personal family-oriented bend to the book. " - A Bookish Affair

"Saldana's writing is gorgeous; it is clear she is a poet. In one short letter to Joseph, she says that on Nablus Road they "stroll[ed] through love and languages." A COUNTRY BETWEEN is such a stroll, through love, language, worlds, religions, and family life. " - Great New Books

Library Journal
02/15/2017
In this memoir, Saldaña meets monk Frederic in a monastery in Syria, and they fall in love. This sounds like the story's happy ending (for more on this, read the author's Bread and Angels), but instead, this is where Saldaña's narrative starts. She and Frederic, now a former monk, marry in France yet seek a place to live where they both feel at home. Both are deeply spiritual and profoundly religious, and they decide that the holy city of Jerusalem should be their first dwelling together. They rent a rambling house on Nablus Road from Franciscan nuns, on the Palestinian side of the city. Nablus Road is a colorful and vibrant place, and it is here that they raise their young children. However, on the edge of East and West Jerusalem, Saldaña and her growing family watch as checkpoints spring up in front of their house, altering the neighborhood's way of life. Even though they ultimately move to a different house, they remain in Jerusalem, a testament to the couple's full embrace of peace and a commitment to living the lives they chose together. VERDICT This book about hope in uncertain times reads especially poignantly for anyone looking toward the future. Saldaña writes about her Catholic faith in a waythat is inclusive of other traditions as well. (Memoir, 12/12/16; ow.ly/pfQw308cd7D)—RD
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-12-07
Reflections of a young American wife and mother trying to make a home in war-torn Jerusalem. A peripatetic writer whose first memoir, The Bread of Angels, chronicled her life in Damascus while learning Arabic, here Saldaña (English/Al-Quds Bard Coll.) chronicles the latest leg of her life's journey: leaving the monastery in the Syrian desert she often visited to marry a French monk, Frédéric. An American from Texas who grew up Catholic, the author was from a vastly different world than her deeply devout husband. Yet they were both avid travelers, and after getting married in his provincial hometown in France, they decided to settle, implausibly, in Jerusalem. Born under a lucky star, as his mother described him, Frédéric found the couple a home in a huge old house next to a monastery on Nablus Road, just outside the gates of the Old City: the "scar" between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. Saldaña's Arab neighbors—e.g., the falafel seller who claimed her front steps for business—were intrigued by her and her Christianity as well as by her ability to speak Arabic with them; she wondered if they thought she was a spy. Many of her neighbors were bossy yet well-meaning, and when she finally got pregnant with her first child, their devotion and kindness deeply moved her. However, there was the constant specter of war just outside the borders of the neighborhood, where the Israeli soldiers constantly harassed the Palestinians for their identification papers, and the tension remained high. With limpid, often shimmering prose, Saldaña builds an impressive sense of genuine emotion, and she vividly explores the array of life in that seething section of Jerusalem. The couple's first child was born in a hospital in Bethlehem—among other ironies beautifully understated. A serene memoir in which the author takes valuable time to regard the character of the Palestinian people and their way of life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781492639053
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
02/07/2017
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
237,503
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.20(d)

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