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The Book of Jonas

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  1,610 ratings  ·  380 reviews
An exceptional debut novel about a young Muslim war orphan whose family is killed in a military operation gone wrong, and the American soldier to whom his fate, and survival, is bound.

Jonas is fifteen when his family is killed during an errant U.S. military operation in an unnamed Muslim country. With the help of an international relief organization, he is sent to America
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 15th 2012 by Blue Rider Press (first published March 1st 2012)
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3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,610 ratings  ·  380 reviews

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Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me deeply sad. I would still recommend it, because I think it's an important book for our current world.

For much of the story the reader is left as detached from the main character as he seems to be from himself. Jonas (Younis) is a kind of ghost drifting through his new life in America trying to make sense of his present, but purposefully not of his past. There are brief interludes of memory, wisps and hints here and there of his life before (and during) the trauma he faced.

Teresa Lukey
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Book of Jonas is the story of a young Muslim boy, named Jonas, who is saved by U.S. troops after his small, remote village was demolished by an American military attack. The town was known to harbor insurgents, but there were also other inhabitants who were most definitely innocent, including young children.

After being hospitalized for injuries incurred during the attack, Jonas consents to live with a foster family in Pittsburgh, PA and attends sessions with psychiatrist in order to work thr
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
The writing in this book is good and really appealed to me. But the book went on, and that was kind of all there was to it. The story traced only the barest outline of what it is like to be a refugee in America and a solider in the Middle East, respectively, and didn’t really have anything new to say about either. That’s fine, but then the book never really explores the characters in a meaningful or interesting way either. It read more like an artful recording of events rather than a compelling ...more
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pure-win
It seems only fair to begin this with the truth that I'm horrifyingly predisposed to love this book. Deep, deep bias here, people. I'm also going to ask that you overlook this truth because it turns out it wouldn't have mattered who wrote it or what I already knew of it or its author before reading: it's fucking beautiful.

I read this all the way through on a flight from Portland, Oregon to Chicago. It may be the first time I've ever really teared up when reading on a plane. This was a little emb
May 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2012
The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau is the story of 15 year old Younis. His village in an unnamed Muslim, middle eastern country is destroyed under questionable circumstances by American military. Recovering in the hospital he is visited by an interfaith agency who offers him the opportunity to be placed with a family in America, and after some thought he agrees, though he is later not sure why. The book is broken up into 7 parts, titles with religious connotations, Processional, Invocation, Rememb ...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
A military operation gone wrong in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, an American soldier and a young boy survivor who ends up in America. If there ever was a book that shows the different sides of a war, the repercussions for those involved and their families, this is the one. There are no winners and many many losers regardless of the side they are fighting on. The worst moments of a life may not ever be gotten over. There were so many poignant moments in this novel, and the way it is written ...more
My daughter and I listened to this driving Houston together to set up her new apartment. We both agreed the book contained good writing—technically speaking—but we were disappointed in the overall story. It seemed to promise more than it delivered. Too bad. The best part was the metaphor involving the lioness and a baby gazelle that presumably represented the young American serviceman and the boy he saved.

I wish I could recommend it.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
"What is it like to lose everything?" asked the man, the stranger who was there to help.
And Younis fixed him with his pale green eyes and said, "What is it like not to?"

These are big questions, with no easy answers. They are the questions posed and explored in Stephen Dau's beautifully written debut novel, The Book of Jonas.

The novel opens as Younis, a 15 year old boy, is in the process of being repatriated from his war ravaged country (which is never named) to the United States. It's not clear
Nov 29, 2012 rated it liked it
“The Book of Jonas” follows Jonas (an Americanization of his real name, Younis) from his boyhood in an unnamed Middle Eastern country to troubled adulthood in America. Jonas’ village has been destroyed by American military forces in a botched operation to target insurgents. Gravely injured by the explosions that decimated his home and killed his family, Jonas escapes into a cave in the mountains. To his surprise, an American soldier tracks him to the cave. The soldier, Chris Henderson, stitches ...more
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was looking at a display of books for sale, reading the back cover of "The Book of Jonas" when the author happened to walk by.

He stopped and said, "Great book."

I recognized him as the author and said, "Really? I heard the author is kind of pretentious."

"Oh no," he replied. "He's nice and charming and I bet he would even sign your book. And then you could sell it on eBay for a lot of money."

So I bought the book because Stephen Dau was nice, even though the description of this novel didn't cap
CJ Baroni
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Jonas, a debut literary novel that was exciting and intriguing, was written by Stephen Dau. This book is Dau's only book and was published in 2012. Stephen Dau is a 45-year-old American-Belgian author from western Pennsylvania and he now lives in Brussels, Belgium. He attended University of Pittsburgh, Johns Hopkins University, and Bennington College and he is only known for writing The Book of Jonas. The book starts as a fifteen-year-old boy named Younis and he lives in an unnamed M ...more
Nikita Perevalov
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Jonas, a novel written by Stephen Dau and published in 2012. The book is about one boy's life. Stephen Dau is a 45-year-old American author, born in Penselvanya. Mr. Dau is known for writing The Book of Jonas. Stephen Dau attended University of Pitsburg, Johns Hopkins University, and Bennington College. The book starts off with, Younis, a fifteen-year-old boy from the Middle East. Younis is asked, on the first page "What is it like to lose everything?" (The Book of Jonas p.1) Th ...more
Nono Qiu
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the past few weeks, the Cardigan 9th Grade white English classes are given the opportunities to read the The Book of Jonas. It was written by American-Belgian writer named Stephen Dau, who was born in the year of 1971. This fictional and yet mind-bending novel covers a wide range of topics and genres. One of the main themes of the book is the theme of Coming of Age. This particular theme consists of a description, or representation of one's growth and changes overtime, especially with people ...more
Apr 17, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The novel, The Book of Jonas is written by Stephen Dau and is a fiction book that takes place in the Middle East and the United States in the state of Pennsylvania. The story is about a 15-year-old boy named Younis when his village is attacked and his whole family is killed. He later moves to the United States and changes his name to Jonas and lives with a foster family. During the time when Jonas was struggling to stay alive, a U.S. soldier named Christopher finds Jonas on the side of a mountai ...more
Zach Whitehead
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau. It was very exciting and was filled with relatable tales about a boy around my age. The story is of a fifteen year old boy named Younis from the Middle East who lost his parents in an American attack on his village. He moves to America and is faced with the struggles of adapting to a whole new world. The author wrote, "Somewhere over the Atlantic he assumes his new identity."(Dau 11) He is referring to Younis changing his name to Jonas, ...more
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, books-i-own
" quickly everything changes, whether because of a decision you make or the decisions made by others, or just because of chance, and in a moment the entire path of your life, everything you knew and everything you will ever know, is altered" (102"

The Book of Jonas is Stephen Dau's debut novel a powerful story of a young boy who survives an American military attack on his village in an unnamed Muslim country.

The man character Jonas, is rescued and eventually comes to the United States as a
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: april-2012
Oh, this was such a good book! I think the easy text was a wonderful contrast to the very emotional, thought provoking intent of the novel. It defined so much in what one experiences due to the ravages of war and how it leaves the human psyche often bereft of feelings.

The protagonist, a young man amidst the chaos and destruction of war, becomes a symbol of what life can become if you are subjected to war's odious effect. The young man, Jonas, a muslim, witnesses the destruction of his family and
Marten Wennik
I was very moved by this book. Dau captures the reader with a complex tale that weaves characters, time periods, faiths, hope, love and anger in a compelling way that makes this book hard o put down. The micro chapters move by so quickly that you have little awareness of the time you have spent reading. The author also twists the reader through emotional responses to the story and, as a result, I found myself reacting with different emotions as different times as I read the book. Anger, empathy, ...more
Wendy Pearl's Picks
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely, unequivocally love The Book of Jonas! I'm shocked that this is a first novel! Dau expertly weaves together the connected stories of Rose, Jonas and Christopher, revealing the sad and shocking truth in a page-turning, emotionally wrought conclusion. More importantly, I feel like Dau puts a personal face on the tragedies of the current war-for the Muslims, the soldiers, and for their families back in the U.S.-in a way few other writers have done. And the writing is superb! I have to ...more
Slater Whitehead
The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau was great read. This book is about a young kid whose name is Younis or as known in America Jonas. This kid lived in the Middle East and was shipped to America after the US came in and killed his family and destroyed his village. The book is about his life in America and how it has been and also how he survived the raid by the US Military. Book starts off by showing the past of Jonas with him in school being bullied and him not liking School. Also and with his new ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was a gift from my friend, I bet she doesnt even know that I'm not really love to read a book about war or anything that has a war background but since I still wait for my other bookmails to deliver I took this time to read the book and it wasnt that bad as I expected everytime I heard about book of war or some sort of war. This is a book about Jonas (Younis) a boy that survive from a war in the middle eastern (no mentioned which country) and then transfered to United States of America ...more
Nicole Means
Jul 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book had so much potential to be awesome; instead, it left me wondering what I had just read. The story lacked cohesion and resembled a rough draft that fell through the cracks, instead of the final draft which should have been edited on numerous occasions before making its way into my hands. With a bit of guidance, this story could have been truly beautiful. The author's intentions of trying to build connections amongst the characters fell flat, as did the over-ambitious attempt to create ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A story about two individuals, intertwined by one event and the overwhelming human need to find peace and have closure
Rodrigo Garcia
The Book of Jonas is a book by Stephen Dau. Dau is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked in a post-war reconstruction program in Balkanas. The book falls into the genre of drama in my opinion. This book is the type of book that captures you and makes you want to keep reading to figure out what happens next chapter. One thing I really liked from this book was that Dau liked to make chapters extremely short which speeded up the reading and the transitions. I think Dau’s experience with ...more
Sara Latta
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The lives behind collateral damage

Fifteen-year-old Younis is injured and orphaned when a U.S. military raid gone awry hits his village in an unnamed Muslim country that resembles Afghanistan. With the aid of an international relief organization, he is sent to the U.S., where he is assigned to a well-meaning but rather clueless foster family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He changes his name to Jonas on the plane: “He suspects this will cause trouble; he does it anyway.”
“The Book of Jonas” (Blue
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the past three weeks, the 9th Grade here at Cardigan was given the choice to read one of three books and I chose The Book of Jonas. It was written by an American-Belgian writer named Stephen Dau, who was born in the year of 1971. It is a historical fiction book that has made its mark on the world by telling a story about a young boy soldier that moves to America and struggles to adapt. This book covers his whole life and all the struggles that happen and what he he does that makes it hard f ...more
Aleksei Rutkovskii

The Book Of Jonas is a relatively modern novel that was written in 2012 by Stephen Dau. Dau was born in western Pennsylvania and lives in Brussels. He has worked in postwar reconstruction and international development prior. “Mostly I tend to write about America as seen through the eyes of people who don't live there,” Dau says on his website. The Book of Jonas is his first novel and primarily tells the reader about Jonas, a boy from unnamed Middle Eastern country who came to the United States a

Corey Sarazin
Stephen Dau, an American-Belgian writer, wrote a very intriguing and emotional fiction of a boy who moved to America after his village was flattened by an American army operation gone sideways. The Book of Jonas is a book that is like no other book I have ever read. Dau uses colorful adjectives and writes in short chapters that kept me intrigued and wanting to read more. The plot immediately drew me in, and these abbreviated chapters forced me to continue asking questions throughout reading the ...more
Mar 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Stephen Dau’s The Book of Jonas is a disturbing gospel for our time. It has simultaneously nothing and everything to do with religion; it can be read quite literally or allegorically, and it asks us to consider what it means to be saved. It’s also very much a novel about war, and guilt, and remembrance. It’s big.

Jonas, of the title, is a teenaged refugee from a war in an unnamed country that sure sounds like Afghanistan. He finds himself, “I’ll go,” in America, where he is mocked for his accent,
Henri Pfeifle
The Book Of Jonas by Stephen Dau was an interesting book. Abviously an interesting story but the way Dau tells the story is what really gets me going in the morning. It makes me think and want to keep reading. I think this is the only book that as ever made me think as much as I did over the time I read. This is becasue the way of writing style Dau uses. He changes the scene of Jonas life often after every short chapter. It can go from Jonas telling the story of his village to a couple years la ...more
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Originally from Western Pennsylvania, Stephen Dau attended the University of Pittsburgh before working in post-war reconstruction in the Balkans and international philanthropy in Washington DC. He subsequently studied creative writing at Johns Hopkins University and received an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. In addition to his debut novel, The Book of Jonas, his work has appeared in The ...more
“I don't really remember making a decision. I don't remember thinking to myself, "Yes, I will do this," or, "No, I will not do that." They tell you what to do, and you do it. You don't reflect on it. You don't ponder its meaning. You don't explore its ambiguities or consider its consequences. These burdens are removed from you. In theory.
But you are still human. Eventually, you do reflect on it. The consequences make themselves known. The results of your actions persist. Eventually, you are struck by their meaning. At some point, an accounting is made. Eventually, if you are human, and sane, you examine what you have done.”
“ say it out loud is to give shape to something he had wanted to remain formless.” 6 likes
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