This Year in Jerusalem

040414_mishmash_bookBy Jeffrey F. Barken
Banjo Press, 128 pages

What begins as a collection of short stories quickly turns into an intriguing narrative in “This Year in Jerusalem.”

Barken, who based the book on his own experiences living on a kibbutz in southern Israel from 2009 to 2010, incorporates characters from almost every walk of life to weave together a complex and well-written story that readers will find hard to tear themselves away from.

The main character, Myles, is likable at first, but as the reader learns more about him and why he has made the journey from New York to Israel, lines begin to blur. Readers follow along as he lives on a whim in the country he has run to in an effort to escape the mistakes he made at home, meeting all kinds of people along the way, many of whom are trying to escape their own demons. At the same time, readers are given a look into the life he left behind, watching as his friends and family back in America try to create new lives for themselves and pick up the pieces he left behind.

Scripted as just a snapshot in time, by the end of the book, there are still many unanswered questions, but that only adds to the appeal.

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