Enemy Territory by Sharon E. McKay
|October 1, 2012||Posted by Christa McGrath under Young Adult|
Published by Annick Press
Reviewed by Christa McGrath
In a world where rivalry has existed for decades—in an environment where enemies are defined by ethnicity—an unlikely friendship develops between two teenage boys whose only commonality is age, a hospital room, and adoration for a girl named Alina. Sam (an Israeli teen with a severely injured leg) and Yusuf (a Palestinian teen with a severely injured eye) have become roommates at a Jerusalem hospital. But for two young men who have inherited extremely different cultural and political beliefs, this union has great potential for hostility and contentiousness. A glimpse into their personal lives at the beginning provides the necessary backdrop for this rivalry and reminders of their cultural obstacles are nicely interwoven throughout the story.
McKay explores modern-day Israel and the West Bank where conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians remains strong. These two young men are pitted against one another through no fault of their own. Their initial encounter in the hospital room is undoubtedly hostile, but a journey one night into the Old City serves as a turning point. The reader joins them on a spontaneous and innocent nighttime escapade that exposes them to the threat of military interference, unsavory characters, and dangerous wildlife. Sam and Yusuf become each other’s only means of survival as they struggle to return to their hospital room unnoticed before daylight. And, along the way, these two enemies by birth become friends by choice.
Enemy Territory is an eclectic mixture of adventure, drama, and humor. Catering to a young adult audience, this book more than delivers on its goal to reveal how youth may perceive the Arab-Israeli conflict. It also reveals how resilience, forgiveness, and tolerance can triumph. While an element of predictability does exist, there is a heartwarming lesson for all ages here. I definitely encourage all adults (young and old alike) to pick up this book and sit back for an evening or two of educational enlightenment – you won’t be disappointed.
Read more about Enemy Territory here.