Reviews for What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?
Booklist Reviews 2013 September #2
*Starred Review* Readers can be forgiven for expecting Harris-Gershon to tread on familiar ground in his Memoir of Jerusalem. But this enormously compelling title smashes preconceived notions while delivering an unforgettable and provocative story about the roots of terrorism and the nature of victimhood. Initiated after the author struggled for years with the emotional aftermath of his wife's traumatic injuries from the 2002 terrorist bombing of Hebrew University, this book is as much about trying to write about what happened as it is an attempt to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself. In alternating chapters, Harris-Gershon details the couple's personal story while juxtaposing it with his ongoing historical research. He doesn't shy away from the complicated politics and provides a concise background to both the Israeli and Palestinian positions while recounting his own attempts to understand how they came to be locked in their adversarial relationship. As he works his way toward meeting the convicted terrorist who tried to kill his wife, Harris-Gershon finds himself considering how a man becomes a monster. Bracing, intense, and relentless, this is a book about how we as humans get to the darkest of places and the questions we must ask to find our way out. A transformative reading experience. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2013 July #1
An American journalist makes an ambitious, ultimately resigned attempt to achieve reconciliation for Israeli-Palestinian sins through a painful revisiting of the 2002 terrorist attack in Jerusalem that severely injured his wife. Harris-Gershon and his wife, Jamie, were both studying Jewish Education at Jerusalem's Hebrew University in the summer of 2002 when their happy plans were brutally derailed by the explosion of a backpack bomb at a university cafe, which gravely injured Jamie and killed her two companions. A Palestinian Israeli with a wife and young children from East Jerusalem, Mohammad Odeh, was indicted and imprisoned for the bombing. Odeh had been recruited by a Jerusalem Hamas cell that used his contacts as a university painter to infiltrate the grounds. Surgery to remove shrapnel and a long stint in the burn unit spelled months of recovery for Jamie, and the couple decided that they could not remain in Israel. They settled in Washington, D.C., where the author got a job at the Jewish Day School, and the couple started a family. In his erratic account that swings wildly back and forth in time, Harris-Gershon tracks the couple's attempts at an emotional coming-to-terms with their Jewish identity, all the while sifting through the political stalemate and outright hostility between the two sides that resulted in the Hebrew University bombing. Obsessed by his failure to protect his wife from harm and Israel's inability to protect its people from violence, Harris-Gershon recognized that "only through storytelling, I could reclaim myself." That entailed returning to Israel and facing down the truth of the attack and even the attacker. Learning Odeh's name, meeting his family and walking around in his shoes both confounded the author and helped in "choking out something transformative: choking out a blessing." An arduous, brave, messy, raw, emotional journey. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 July #4
In this courageous memoir, Harris-Gershon stares down the thorny Palestinian-Israeli crisis. The complex conflict becomes a deeply personal matter when his wife is seriously injured in a Jerusalem terrorist bombing. The author, a blogger for Tikkun magazine, takes us through the lives of his wife, Jamie, and Hamas bomber Mohammed Odeh in the hours before the explosion at the Hebrew University's cafeteria. He then describes the horrible aftermath of the explosion, Jamie's agonizing journey of healing, and the death of her friends. While Harris-Gershon's friends and family think he should be outraged, he clings to his Hebrew faith, seeking meaning from the ordeal, concluding that the terrible act was "the inevitable consequence of living in Israel." His assured narrative pace--an excellent hybrid of moral confessional and reporter diary--measures the emotional and spiritual impact of his wife's recovery and his decision to find Odeh's family in East Jerusalem. Harris-Gershon seeks solace in the terrorist's remorse upon his arrest. Full of unexpected surprises and insight, this book serves up a treasure of possible options of compromise, forgiveness, and political cooperation. Agent: Jessica Papin, Dystel & Goderich. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC