Monday, February 7, 2011

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, by Sarah Glidden

In this graphic memoir, Sarah Glidden tells the story of her birthright trip to Israel.  I was vaguely aware of the existence of birthright trips, but didn't know much about them.  Basically, if you can prove that you are a young Jewish adult living on the planet Earth, you can get a free trip to Israel.  While there, you will be taken to various locations and given background on the history of the land, both ancient and recent--from the Israeli perspective, of course.
Glidden embarks on the trip with very strong sympathy for the Palestinians.  She leaves with more questions than answers.

Pros: Strong storytelling.  Glidden is really good at drawing stuff that shouldn't really be drawable, like her internal struggle over whether or not the tour she is on is trying to brainwash her.  Also I love the watercolor illustrations.  If you are a lame-o like me who is interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but too lazy or lacking in attention span to read a Very Serious Book on the subject, give this one a whirl.
Cons: None really. 

Recommended for:  Grown-ups.  Maybe grown-ups who've read Maus and/or Persepolis.  There might be one or two older teens who would like it, especially those with a particular interest in the subject matter.  It would also make a good curriculum tie-in for high schools studying recent Middle East history.

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