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A Country Between: Making a Home Where Both Sides of Jerusalem Collide

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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  202 ratings  ·  55 reviews

"Behind every dark moment, there is another hidden world. The trick is to hold out long enough to make it there."

When American writer Stephanie Saldaña finds herself in an empty house at the beginning of Nablus Road, the dividing line between East and West Jerusalem, she is a new wife trying to navigate a fragile terrain, both within her marriage and throughout the count

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Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published February 7th 2017 by Sourcebooks
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Meg - A Bookish Affair
In "A Country Between," Stephanie and her husband (their love story alone could have made a whole 'nother book) make a new life in Jerusalem. It's a gorgeous exploration of the historic city that has been so marked by fighting. It's a place of different groups of people pressing against each other and trying to carve out their own place. It's also an incredibly personal story of love and of building a life together. Filled with gorgeous prose, this book brought me to tears by the end - a certain ...more
RoseMary Achey
The memoir of an American woman living in Jerusalem. Beautiful prose and would love to see her branch out to nonfiction.
Ilana
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A former monk and a woman considering becoming a nun studying Islam in Damascus meet and feel in love. They embark on a new spiritual adventure in Israel, where they settle on Nablus road in the Eastern part of Jerusalem. There, she is trying to learn how to feel and understand the city, while acknowledging the challenges of living in a different world. The life is not easy, as she writes shortly after moving there: 'I was exhausted from living in a place where everything was political, even whe ...more
Philip Monroe
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A breath-taking memoir of life begun together with her husband (and later children) as they lived just outside the Damascus gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is personal, it is beautiful, it is tender. Meaningful to me because I lived not far from there for a semester many years ago. However, I think anyone can find great value in this book. Top two in my books read this year.
Julie Du Brow
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my top favorite books every...period.
Michelle
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and well written. A little too much hearty-flowery talk for me, but I think many people will enjoy this story of different cultures meeting up.
Robin
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most beautifully written books that I have read in a very long time. She has written prose poetry here and I will reread it again and again. Of course, the subject matter is pertinent now with the moves made by the US regarding Jerusalem but the history of the region is intense and so are her interior thoughts and feelings. I regard her as a fascinatingly creative soul with much to say about her moments on earth. I hope she continues to write with such breathtaking beauty in t ...more
Heather


This memoir is the story of an American woman who was considering becoming a nun in a Syrian monastery.  She met a French novice monk there.  Eventually, they left and married. 

Through a series of unplanned events, they found themselves setting up their first household in Jerusalem.  It was near the dividing line between Palestinian and Jewish areas near the Damascus Gate.

gate-of-damascus-676492_1280
"The sun rose in the east speaking Arabic and set in the west speaking Hebrew, and we tried to find our way in between."
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Crissie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alison
This was a fascinating read of places and experiences most of us will never have.
The author Stephanie, meets her to be husband Frédéric who was in his third and final year as a novitiate soon to become a monk at The Syrian desert monastery Deir Mar Musa, north of Damascus. I have not read the first part of this memoir, which I must do soon, to learn more about their relationship.
The Country Between, takes place when they move out of Syria and are trying to find out where they should live. They e
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Anna
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir made me want to travel. Saldana's descriptions of her travels and of her seven years in Jerusalem piqued my interest and made me want to learn more about the Middle East and life in the Holy Land.
Beyond that, this book wasn't anything too special.
And that was my biggest problem with it. Saldana beautifully describes a land and the people that I have never experienced and she is so poetic in talking about her marriage and children. And I really enjoyed reading it. This was a genuinely
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Rachelfm
I loved The Bread of Angels: A Memoir of Love and Faith and was tickled to hear that Stephanie Saldana had a new book picking up where her first book left off.

She describes with real empathy and care the choices and challenges that she and her husband make to discern how they can turn their love for each other into a life. The descriptions of her street in Jerusalem were lush and textured and I truly found those some of the most interesting observations of the book. I also loved and identified
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bookczuk
Beautiful recollections of time spent living near the Damascus Gate, outside the wall, in Jerusalem. Saldana writes it as a letter to her son, sort of a how I met your father, if that were a story of spiritual seekers. The author really brought home life in this community, both as it was occurring, and what it grew from. Fascinating.

From the publishers:
When young mother Stephanie Saldana finds herself in an empty house at the beginning of Nablus road―the dividing line between East and West Jerus
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MariLee
Stephanie Saldana, a young American woman, was studying to become a nun in a Syrian monastery. While there, she met and fell in love with a French man (Frederic) who was in his third novice year of becoming a monk. They married and left Syria, settling in the old part of Jerusalem near the Damascus gate, which separates the Palestinian and Jewish areas of the city.

This book is written as a series of letters to Stephanie and Frederic's son, Joseph, who was born in Bethlehem. Saldana writes beaut
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Joni Taylor
When a monk (who is from France) and an American woman who is thinking about becoming a nun while studying Islam in Damascus meet, fall in love and marry, they decide to take a new spiritual adventure in Israel, where they settle on Nablus road in the Eastern part of Jerusalem. She sees her new world mostly from her window and observes the different challenges of life in a very different world. I think the story and the writing was lovely, but I found that the Israeli Reality was largely ignored ...more
Robin Drake
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stephanie Saldana has written a beautiful story for her son describing her and her husband's meeting and eventual life in Jerusalem. This memoir was so interesting to me because I was fortunate enough to have stayed in Jerusalem for 10 days, just steps away from where she lived. I could see exactly what she was describing. This story points out the beauty that the human soul seeks and finds while living in difficult and often violent circumstances. Not only does she give you a glimpse of living ...more
Mark
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
A wonderful read. Even more powerful than her first book, which I greatly enjoyed. Her musings on faith in the midst of conflict and love in the midst of a messy world are inspiring and challenging.

Toward the end of the book, she writes:

"It will always be confusing to think that that which is terrible and that which is beautiful have the same materials to work with, the brick and mortar and earth and stars of our immediate world. There is that which can kill us, and that which will save us, and
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Jennifer
A memoir of the beginning of a family, written in the form of a long letter to a child, explaining to him how his parents met and how they came to be living in such a place.
After they married, Saldana and her husband moved to Jerusalem. They lived on a street that turned out to be a border between Israel and Palestine. It's interesting, this idea of living in a war zone and starting a family, and hoping maybe it won't touch you. I mostly really liked it, occasionally there was a little too much
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Hannah
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandra
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and outstanding.
Stephanie Saldaña's words are very well written, they flow well and sound a bit poetic. I devour every word written in this book. This is a captivating read, I cannot describe how much I love this book. I've been to Jerusalem before but this book makes me see Jerusalem differently. Thank you for sharing this story with us all. I can't wait to read another Stephanie Saldaña's book.

Thank you to Netgalley for this book.
Lara
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was great. Very well written, thoughtful without being boring. I loved how interesting the author and her husband's life was. I mean, grow up in France and Texas, almost become nun and monk in Syria, end up married and living in Jerusalem during war time?!!? Very fascinating to hear about their life in Jerusalem. Highly recommended.
Andrea
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. This is a beautifully written book, but I prefer a little more content over poetry. If you love beautiful, descriptive passages you will love this.

I really enjoyed and appreciated this book starting at about page 300. The last 40 pages really bring the whole thing together... but not quite in time for me to really love it.
Michelle Ule
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this memoir and will pick up the previous one, Bread of Angels, this afternoon!

Beautiful and insightful writing about a challenging time and place.

(I read aloud the section about the mermaids in Jerusalem and my husband and I both laughed).

I love reading about how Christianity looks within different cultures and I appreciated Saldana's candor and stories.

Thank you.
Jenny
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story of a young woman who planned to be a nun ended up marrying a novice
monk, who made a home in the war torn city, Jerusalem. Among all of the conflicts,wars,and
violence, they found hope and beauty of family life. It is well written and engrossing
Massanutten Regional Library
Linell, Central patron, June 2017, 4 stars:

A Country Between is beautifully written, with thoughtful ideas about borders between countries, cultures, and people. I appreciate the New Books shelves at MRL and always find something interesting that expands my horizons.
Susan
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 50-in-2018
This is one of those "You need to read this" books. The writing is lyrical as she chronicles a life's chapter in a difficult, ever-changing cultural place. My husband is a picky reader and he is riveted by this one.
jastanley
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well wtitten
Janis
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written.
Nancy
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely, lyrical book about a young couple adjusting to marriage and then family life, while living through wars in Jerusalem.
Elizabeth
This is a stunningly beautiful book. Many thanks to my friend Keith for recommending it.
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