A terrorist attack planned for Easter Sunday in Jerusalem sets off a chain of events that weave together the lives of an American journalist, Israeli war hero, Palestinian farmer, and Christian grocer.
Alerted to a suicide bomb plot, Major Jakov Levy orders the closure of the border with the Gaza Strip. Unable to get his produce to market, Amin Mousa dumps truckloads of tomatoes in a refugee camp. Paul Kessler, an American journalist, sees it on television and goes to Gaza for Amin’s personal story.
Hamas militants plot to smuggle the bomb out in Paul’s car and retrieve it when he returns home, but he’s unexpectedly detoured on the way. Meanwhile, a Hamas member confesses to the plot, and the race is on to find Paul and retrieve the bomb before the terrorists can.
A Vision of Angels is a human drama set against the background of the Middle East conflict. Ultimately it’s a story of reconciliation and hope, but not before events as tragic as a modern passion play change the lives of four families forever.
This is a book that could so easily have become derailed and ‘preachy’, as the subject covered within its pages is one we see and hear about daily on our national news; the conflict between Israel and Palestine. So I was wonderfully relieved to see that the Author dealt with this volatile area with an unbiased and caring pen. Too many Authors take sides in their writing when covering this topic and, I’m happy to say that Timothy J. Smith is definitely not one of them; he conveys through his writing a feeling of truth, familiarity and understanding.
There is not one main lead character but many, as the novel is written from a variety of different points of view that are all equally represented; there is no hint at all as to whether the Author leans one way or the other in his beliefs. Through the eyes of his characters, the people who live in Israel and are subject to this everyday (to give spoilers would really be wrong in this review), we are able to understand the history of the area, what has happened and why it is still happening now. To me this was the absolute strong point of the novel; it meant I could really empathize with the characters, and see through their eyes how futile and complicated the situation there really is. For some readers though, they may feel it hard to empathize with the characters as this, after all, is a novel about the concept of war. Whilst all the characters are dynamic and complicated, they will incite one of two emotions in the reader, empathy or a general disdain.
The story moves at a cracking pace; it’s tragic, suspenseful, desperate and desolate and the conflict at times is brutally confronting; something we all need in this present day to make us take note to what is happening outside our own comfort zone. Unlike our daily media reporting this novel is able to give the situation an underlying human perspective, which we all too often fail to acknowledge.
Ultimately, this story is a depiction of how continuing conflict can cause individuals to lose track of what is going on, and the actual reason they are at war. How it tears families apart while at the same time it bringing them back together.
To get a better understanding of how this works, how the characters and circumstances work together in this region, you really need to read the novel. To try to describe it here would be to do an injustice to a sensitively covered topic, which has us reeling in the modern media.
I would definitely recommend this novel to lovers of international political and contemporary fiction and anyone who takes a keen interest in world affairs.