I am sure there are many better and more academic ways to review this book, but I will not go on that route (for the simple reason that I would not be able to do that). Instead, I will share how I perceived the book, what I made of it and what it made of me.
To start from the general impression to the particular things that stuck with me: Amos tells us how it is to be the child of his parents and extended family, a child in the Jewish Jerusalem after the war, together with the fears, frustrations and joys he inherits from all of these.
The historical background of the story: Europe’s Jewish refugees during the WW2, each coming with all their own personal history, the relationship with the Arabs in Jerusalem, the British occupation and the recognition of Israel as a state is a whole main character in itself. But because you learn it through the eyes of the young Amos, who himself learns it from the adults’ opinion, like in a game of mirrors’ reflections, you become intimate with the history of this period, almost like it was you who lived it. By the end of the book, you for sure know how it would have felt to live it.
And then there is Amos, not even a character in itself, but a complicated sum of his complicated relatives who themselves are still looking for a sense of belonging, the dark and humid house filled with books and ultimately of what he is told to be, do and think. Nothing more. But do not be tricked by this, as he captures a whole world of action, suspense and juicy details in this autobiography of his early years.
With the conscience of a child, he describes his parents, getting you to feel for them the way he felt for them, his distant relatives and all the people that left a mark in him, surroundings and the full universe of his inner world. If that includes a few pages description of how a small stone is feeling in his mouth, you can be assured that after reading these pages you will feel by yourself the small stone in your mouth, together with all the thoughts labyrinth that come packed with it. Therefore, it all feels honest and real.
You know early on how the book is about to end: the drama of the story is all over the place. But everything written between the beginning and the end just makes you want to have more pieces of the puzzle, you want to get there by your own, you want Amos to understand so you can also understand what is it all about.
Needless to say, I totally enjoyed reading this book, which is not really a surprise, as I so far devoured some more of his writings. I would recommend it to you if you like a bit of historical background, juxtaposing stories as well as a bit of psychology and anthropology.
I had a great passion for reading ever since I learned how to read. But after going to university and especially after I started working, I somehow forgot about this passion and always used the “I don’t have time” excuse. Since one year now I am back to reading all sorts of books, from literature to philosophy, economics, how-to guides and just everything that sparks my interest. It makes me very happy (and I would like to think that smarter as well) and I think it perfectly complements with the rest of who I am and what I do.