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Thursday, April 19, 2012


Disclosure: I have been compensated for my participation in this BlogHer Book Club discussion, but the opinions expressed are 100% my own.  
It's refreshing to be so deeply touched by a book about war without being immersed in graphic descriptions of bloodshed or turmoil. The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau is a fantastic debut novel that follows Younis on his journey from orphan the Middle East to foster child in America.

Younis (whose name is translated to Jonas in America) suffers the loss of his family when his home and town is bombed by American troops, and while it is obvious he is struggling with emotional and psychological pain, Dau doesn't subject the reader to all the nitty-gritty details or post-traumatic stress. I have read books that try to force me to understand the the protagonist's brand of crazy and while they succeed in doing so, they fail to uplift. While Younis' story may not have the happiest of endings, it still carries with it a positive vibe. It increases awareness of war and what people go through as survivors.

Dau writes well from various perspectives; he allows us to follow Younis through the loss of his family, and his transition to America. We also follow American soldier Christopher in the form of his journal while overseas. We get in touch with Christopher's mother and her efforts to bring information of MIA soldiers to their waiting families. And yet, each story is told with precision and dedication. No detail is lost.

Mostly, I'm grateful that Dau makes this an easy read, despite the emotional topic. War is not beautiful, but The Book of Jonas is.

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