Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Review of 'The Weight of the Sky' by Lisa Ann Sandell

"Sarah, like every-college bound junior, deals with constant pressure from her teachers, friends, and parents.  And on top of that, there's the isolation of being a marching band geek and the only Jew in her class.  So when the change to spend the summer working on a kibbutz in Israel comes her way, Sarah jumps at the opportunity to escape her world.  No one in Israel know anything about her, and from the moment she arrives, Sarah joyfully starts shedding the weight of her past.

But living in Israel brings new and very real complications, and when the idyllic life Sarah creates for herself is shattered in an instant, she finds herself longing for the home she though she'd outgrown.

Lisa Ann Sandell's lyrical debut novel beautifully captures the experience of leaving behind a life that's too small, and the freedom that comes from starting over."

I love books that relate to travel!  Israel certainly wasn't one of the places that I expected to desire to visit.  One thing that I really liked about this book was that it gave a more positive view on a place that has always seemed so violent, no matter how much background knowledge you had.

As far as characters go, it didn't really feel like they had a purpose or a mission to them.  If they did, it never lasted very long.  Sarah had a mission to get to the kibbutz  She completed this in three or four chapters.  She was on a mission to be accepted by her peers.  That was two or three chapters later.  You could never tell what was on the mind of Nadav.  The girls, including Katie, were pretty flat from the beginning.

As far as other elements go, the romance felt very thrown in.  It was there, but the characters didn't seem to know what to do with it.  The boys would sometimes begin to talk about being in the army, but it never got much farther or more elaborate than, 'It was fun, but sometimes we had to fight.'  After that, they would cut themselves short.

The end was a little confusing to me.  Sarah figures out what she wants to do and where she wants to go after high school, but her mother refuses to accept this decision.  Ordinarily, this wouldn't have been so confusing, but Sarah never really explained her parents.  She mentions that her parents want her to go to an Ivy League school, but she never explained or delved into how adamant they were about this.  So when her mother blew a gasket at the end when she announced that she was going to Hebrew University in Jerusalem, it came as a complete surprise to me.

The poetry style of this book made it a quick read-- I was able to read 292 pages over the course of roughly three hours.  It was lovely to be able to take an afternoon and just read.  I can't imagine reading this book in anything but one sitting.  The setting sucks you in and never lets you go.  Sarah's narration is thoughtful and it really adds a lot to what readers are supposed to be envisioning.  It's not just a play-by-play.

Often, this book would touch on themes like religion and coming of age, but it was never enough information to make you think that certain parts fit it.  Had they been developed more, this would have been a very effective novel.

Overall, this book was good for those who long to travel, but falls short on more other accounts.

I give 'The Weight of the Sky':
Thanks for Reading!


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