Stein's debut is an intelligent and complex novel that offers thought-provoking insight into complicated modern-day Israel.
Maya, a 20-year-old Israeli, is leaving home for the first time to attend college in Virginia. She's fleeing her past, events that happened in Tel Aviv that she cannot forget and for which she cannot forgive herself. As the narration switches between Maya in Virginia and her previous life in Israel, we learn what demons lurk in her closet and why she can't relate to her American schoolmates.
This important novel looks directly at a young woman's day-to-day life in Israel, the absolute beauty of the country and the horrible reminders that it is not a stable nation. Maya loves her homeland, but her guilt over what happened there prevents her from living a full life. This is a must-read for anyone who wonders what life is really like in Israel, beyond the headlines. (Jan., 240 pp., $15.95)