5inabus's Reviews > Nothing to Lose But Your Life: An 18-Hour Journey With Murad

Nothing to Lose But Your Life by Suad Amiry
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's review
Apr 18, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: patient-bookshelf-dwellers, patientbookschallenge, ad-book-fair

The premise of this book has everything going for it - a Palestinian woman disguises herself as a man and crosses the Israeli border illegally with a bus load of young men who make this journey on a daily basis in search of work. Two thirds of the way in, Suad Amiry writes:
"If anything, this trip had confused the hell out of me. I had no idea where we had been, where we were, or where we were heading. The more I thought about it, the more I began to worry about my readers: how was I to remember all of this and how was I to explain things for them? If it wasn't clear to me, then how would my readers understand? Anyway, why should my readers understand something I couldn't grasp?"
I feel bad saying this, but Amiry was right to worry. It was a big call to ask her readers to understand something which she herself found it hard to make sense of, let alone to communicate. And ultimately? I don't think she was successful. The book is hard to follow, in the sense that the reader isn't always made aware of the passage of time in relation to what is coming next. This may be a perfectly accurate reflection of the events and how they unfolded in the moment - but unfortunately it doesn't make for a coherent reading experience.

Add to that, the narration is infused with personal reflections and occasional political and/or historical references, which rather than provide a much-needed context for the story, only serves to confuse the reader and adds to the muddled-up sense of timing. If a person already has a good understanding of the plight of illegal workers braving the very real dangers of crossing the border to search for work in Israel, then this book might take shape more naturally in their minds. But if it's your first exposure to the harsh reality of life in the West Bank, it's likely to leave you with more questions than answers.

To be equally critical of myself, I didn't commit to this book the time or singular attention it might have deserved. Then again, if a book is powerful enough, that singular attention is earned on its own merits...


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Reading Progress

April 18, 2012 – Shelved
January 2, 2013 – Shelved as: patient-bookshelf-dwellers
February 27, 2013 – Shelved as: patientbookschallenge
May 9, 2013 – Started Reading
May 9, 2013 – Shelved as: ad-book-fair
May 14, 2013 – Finished Reading

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