The People of Forever Are Not Afraid
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The People of Forever Are Not Afraid

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,226 ratings  ·  257 reviews
Yael, Avishag, and Lea grow up together in a tiny, dusty Israeli village, attending a high school made up of caravan classrooms, passing notes to each other to alleviate the universal boredom of teenage life. When they are conscripted into the army, their lives change in unpredictable ways, influencing the women they become and the friendship that they struggle to sustain....more
Hardcover, 338 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Hogarth (first published 2012)
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The Book Maven
I think my disappointment in this novel has much to do with what I enjoy in a novel, and little to do with the quality of the novel itself. I'm pretty darned intelligent, but I prefer a story which grabs and sucks you in, that is intelligible, that is smart and challenging and beautiful and interesting. I don't care for experimental, disjointed, and/or stream-of-consciousness writing, and "The People of Forever" was certainly all those things. I don't mind a story that is difficult to read, but...more
Kira
I went into this book with high expectations, hoping to get caught up in a story of a young girl experiencing the mandatory two years of military service required of both men and women in Israel. Prior to reading the synopsis I didn't even know that went on. I do not know much about life in modern-day Israel and was looking forward to learning more, especially after loving other books set in the middle east, such as A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Unfortunately, I struggled through half of this book an...more
Elisabeth Watson
I can't begin to say how sad I was to watch the unity and gravitational center of this book start to crumble and then sort of whirl apart around half-way through. I'd been looking forward to this book for weeks before Editors Buzz at BEA, and it was the only ARC I walked away with.

For the first few chapters, my excitement was totally justified. I should assure potential readers that that first excitement was never fully undermined. I'm not an expert on these things, but I suspect that PEOPLE OF...more
Jill
First a big thanks to FirstReads for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of this debut book. The opinions below are totally my own:

I rarely start off a book review about what a book isn’t, but the blurbs on this book are so misleading that I felt compelled to do so. This book is not about teenage girls who “gossip about boys and whisper of an ever more violent world.” Nor is it likely to be reviewed as a political statement by anyone who doesn’t have an extreme one-sided view.

What it is abo...more
Gillysegal
In parts, searing, in parts bizarre, and on occasion, horrifying, this is one hard novel to review. I find myself wanting to say many things and also to qualify each of those things as "sort of."

I lived some version of the lives of the characters of this novel and the author herself - I, too, served in the IDF. I could see some of my own experiences reflected in those of Yael, Avishag and Lea, and the mood, the tone, the people were fabulously accurate renderings. But at the same time, much of w...more
Andrew
And They Say Russian Roulette

I was on the landline the whole night talking to Avishag. All of the other girls stayed at Lea’s party. She made people stay, even after they heard something was up with Dan. I didn’t care about that. And I didn’t care that my mom could hear me or that my sister could hear me or that my dad could hear me. At first the thing that was up was that Dan hit his head so Avishag was worried, and then the thing was that he was badly injured in the head and in the hospital bu
...more
Brittany
I won this book for free from the Goodread's First Reads giveaway.

I am very thankful that I won this book and received the opportunity to read something that I normally wouldn't.
This book involves 3 Israeli teenage girls. They were drafted into the army and all worked at different postings. The first chapter intrigued me; it involved violence, a suicide, and a mother leaving her family. The next few chapters after that were not as interesting and it took awhile for me to get through. Once I got...more
Michael
Lea, Avishag and Yael grow up in a small town on the Israel/Lebanon border leaving normal teenage lives. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid tells the story of these three normal Israeli girls from passing notes in school, talking about boys to turning eighteen and being conscripted into the army. Winner of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” authors to watch list in 2011, Shani Boianjiu’s debut novel is a coming of age novel unlike any before. Growing up in this intense war torn world...more
Roger DeBlanck
Shani Boianjiu’s outstanding debut novel entrances you with its vision and understanding of modern war. The central story chronicles the lives of three teenage Israeli girls—Yael, Avishag, and Lea—all of them seniors in high school and soon to be conscripted into the army. Brilliantly paced and structured, the novel allows for each of the girl’s distinctive perspectives to emerge. Oftentimes transitioning between the visceral and the surreal, the layering of stories within stories and the interc...more
Julie
This was the one book I was so eagerly anticipating this summer, especially after hearing the editor sing its praises at the Book Expo America Editor’s Buzz Panel. Considering my enthusiasm of Israeli history, I was excited about the premise of three girls’ experiences during their compulsory military service. Instead of a well-crafted, engaging narrative, what I found was unstructured stream-of-consciousness anecdotes, constantly changing perspectives, and disjointed prose. Very disappointing.

T...more
Joe
Stories about the army generally tend to fall into one of two categories: Either farcical MASH-style parodies, or dark, serious “war is hell,” types.

Budding Israeli writer Shani Boianjiu’s disjointed debut novel about three female IDF soldiers, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid (Hogarth), out next month, definitely leans towards the latter.

At the start of the book, Yael, Avishag and Lea are three friends graduating high school and anxious about their upcoming compulsory stint in the Israeli D...more
Lauren
Oct 04, 2012 Lauren rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Diane Sasson, Brenna Cothran,
This was a grim read but one I'd still recommend. I appreciated rather than enjoyed the story, the relationships between the three girls, the utter boredom and despair of the town they lived in by the Lebanese border (to Jewify the Galilee in the words of one of the girls), the almost casual violence of their time in the army, the checkpoints, the border patrols, the hostility towards Mizrahi Jews in Israel, and the rampant sexism expressed in so much of their culture. It kind of falls apart tow...more
Augusta
It's not very often you get a female's perspective on war in literature but this is probably one of the best books I read this year. THE PEOPLE OF FOREVER ARE NOT AFRAID follows 3 friends through their final year of high school and their time spent in the Israeli military. Powerful imagery, beautiful language, thought-provoking. There are repetitious bits and some changing perspectives that might throw some people off but I thought it helped add depth to the story. Don't miss this one.
Yvonne
There's an interesting story somewhere in this book but it's buried under a lot of poor, confusing writing. No surprise then this is an award winner as difficult to read books seems to equal brilliant in some people's minds. But for me it's just a shame since I was interested in reading about what it's like for those Israeli women conscripted into the army at an early age and I wanted to come away from this book with more than one word, miserable.

It did start off promising enough. We meet the t...more
Tony
THE PEOPLE OF FOREVER ARE NOT AFRAID. (2012). Shani Boianjiu. **.
Although this first novel from this author made the ten best list for 2012 from the Wall Street Journal, I found it dull and the characters vapid. It is basically a coming of age story set in Israel involving three (at least) young women who have just graduated high school and are entering into their required tour of military service. Once in place, they all have different duties, though their actual day-to-day activities are relat...more
Susan
Three girl narrators in vicious circumstances in the Israeli army bring to mind the the tears of young Achilles. Searing. The girls have nearly meaningless jobs but the boys die in the army.

My husband said, "Stop! Why do you read such things?" when I started to describe the incongruity between the funny/sad girl narrators and their experiences in the Israeli army at age 18. The three quirky girls, earth mother Lea, youth counselor Avishag, and writer/traveler Yael, grew up together near the Leba...more
Stephanie
The People of Forever are not Afraid is a very searing portrait of life on the Israeli/Palestinian border and the dangers that lie within the everyday mundane lives of Lea, Avishag and Yael.

I won’t say I didn’t like Boiajiu’s novel—it was a solid three stars for me—but I don’t know if I “got it”. While I was horrified and shocked and saddened at turns by some of the passages in the book, I didn’t feel as though I had the experience to be able to relate to what was going on for the three girls. M...more
Jeremy
I'm not sure what to think of a book whose author published it in a second language when she was only 25. Boianjiu's prose has a weirdly flat quality to it, though its obvious that she often tries to translate Hebrew idioms directly into English. If the prose is clunky and feels a bit off, it is in an entirely intentional way. Yet is works more often than not, she gets into the heads of her three protagonists and manages to convey the dual currents of sheer anxiety and total boredom which animat...more
Annie Staples
Parts of the book are extremely beautifully and well written, in particular, the chapters that were excerpted as short stories in Vice and the New Yorker. They have a pacing, a structure, and an exquisite beauty and inner violence about them that is breathtaking. These stories excited me like no new voice in fiction has for many years. But I felt like these were pieces Boianjui polished to perfection, and the novel as a whole could have used that polishing. For example, she often repeats exact s...more
Cheryl
Yael, Lea, and Avishag are friends. As the years passed Lea became the outcast. Yael and Avishag survived the death of Avishag’s brother. Although nothing will compare for these three woman than spending time serving in the Israeli Defense Forces.

This book will have you thankful that you are alive and are not a female living in Israel. I did have the idea that I was going to join the Air Force and become a pilot and stay for ten years and then retire. I would have been in my mid thirties and th...more
Kruip
"The People of Forever are Not Afraid", titel van de Nederlandse editie: "Het eeuwige volk kent geen angst", wat wellicht letterlijk vertaald correct is, maar zeker niet de lading dekt van de originele boektitel.
Aangevangen in een taal die je mee naar binnen sleept, de wereld, gedachten, het dagelijks leven, van een drietal Israëlische meiden die na hun eindexamen linea recta de dienstplicht gaan vervullen.
De barmhartigheid in dit boek, de zelfspot, de taal, dit boek gaat niet over angst, maar...more
Judy
The book tells the story of three young Israeli girls who have graduated from high school and are preparing to enter their two-year military service in the Israel Defense Force. The remote Israel-Palestine border town where they live hasn't prepared them for the surreal and often bizarre experience of modern military life, especially when men and women train and serve together. The book switches between all three girls as narrators of their experience, making the book into a character study of e...more
oriana
If it takes me more than a week to read a book, that book is either super long or super un-compelling. People of Forever is just over 200 pgs, so sadly, this is the latter.

I grabbed this proof for $1 at the Strand on the strength of the title alone. The premise is unusual: teenage girls in bootcamp in Israel. And at first I was into it; it was pretty fascinating to see stories of teenagers doing teenagey things—getting and giving blowjobs, worrying about their zits, falling in love, feeling mis...more
Jeff Scott


The People of Forever are not afraid follow the lives of Yael, Avishag, and Lea growing up as part of the Israeli Defense Force. It's a very surreal experience to someone who doesn't have enemies at the borders using everything in their power to kill you, even children carrying RPGs. Even though this book is a novel, it reads like a series of short stories. It really heightens the experience and the author knows how to take each story and weave it wonderfully together. She has excellent command...more
Maria
Een verhaal wat indruk maakt. Het zijn eigenlijk wat los van elkaar staande hoofdstukken met een wisselend perspectief, waarin je leest over drie jonge Israëlische vrouwen en vooral over hun militaire diensttijd.
Yael lijkt de vrolijkste, ze is in het leger wapeninstructeur, Avishag, de stilste bewaakt de grens met Egypte en Lea, de slimste wordt tot haar teleurstelling bij de militaire politie geplaatst. Verveling, wachten, herhaling van handelingen maken een groot deel van hun tijd uit. Maar al...more
Karen
The People of Forever are Not Afraid By Shani Boianjiu Three Israeli women growing up in a small dusty town in Israel become of age to do their service in the Israeli army. This novel follows them through their posts and affairs for the next few years and a few past army service. This story had interesting characters and excellent writing but it was very hard to follow. Extremely confusing. Time jumps forward and back so often it is hard to know when the episode is taking place and just as myste...more
Jeremy
The premise of this book interested me: three young women from a small village in the northern galilee area of Israel graduate high school and serve a two year hitch in the IDF (With exceptions, military service is compulsory).
This is the 25-year-old author's first novel and it shows some promise. The non-linear narrative is more of a character sketch of the women as they navigate the ultra-masculine culture of military life. Boianjiu does a good job of illustrating the dichotomy between extreme...more
Sharon
Gorgeous and raw. I hardly can write this review without hyperbole. Interlocking perspectives that are as distinct as possible for characters going through the process of getting to know themselves in the midst of an inexplicable war that severs them from their hopes and humanity. Yet the perspectives also blend into the beautiful commons of characters who grew up together and are now facing the same puzzling and perverse military duties. And when you think the characters - these women, brave an...more
David
Americans talk a great deal about Israel, but I don't think most have the first clue what it is like to live there. I certainly don't. It just seems like this strange status of being on the brink of war perpetually without being at war most of the time. This strange state where people live like something horrible might happen even though it doesn't most of the time, only then it does. But, what it is like to live in that? Above all, people continue to live their lives. A glimpse of that is what...more
Alan
I find it difficult to recommend this book, reputed to be about three young women and their experiences doing National Service in the Israeli army. At the same time I feel unable not to recommend it.

There were long sections of the novel where I really enjoyed the narrative - the experiences were completely new to me, the characters well-drawn, the attitude feisty yet apolitical. And then there were chapters that were baffling, unintelligible, obstinately "literary".

The ending is especially disap...more
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What's The Name o...: Young women soldiers, Israel [s] 8 37 Jun 30, 2013 04:33PM  
Read It Forward: * THE PEOPLE OF FOREVER ARE NOT AFRAID by Shani Boianjiu 4 26 Sep 20, 2012 05:26AM  
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Shani Boianjiu was born in 1987 in a small town on the Israel/Lebanon border, and she served in the Israeli Defense Forces for two years. Her fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Vice magazine, and Zoetrope: All Story. Shani is the youngest recipient ever of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 Award, for which she was chosen by Nicole Krauss. She lives in Israel.
More about Shani Boianjiu...
Nous faisions semblant d'être quelqu'un d'autre Means of Suppressing Demonstrations Coming of Age in the Israeli Defense Forces Buzz Books 2012

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