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Book Review: 'The People Of Forever Are Not Afraid'


Now, an insider's view of the Israeli Defense Force. In the new novel, "The People Of Forever Are Not Afraid," author and veteran Shani Boianjiu tells the story of three young women serving in the IDF. Alan Cheuse has our review.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: There's an appealing quality to the comradeship of these three new Israeli Defense Force recruits. Yael, Avishag and Lea, girls from an outlying Israeli village. They're just so desperately bored and lecherous they can hardly live with themselves. They horse around in the barracks, worry about the size of their breasts in the mirror, daydream about Arab laborers who cross through the checkpoints they guard. And eventually, they create an international disturbance by climbing their guard towers, stripping off their uniforms and lying naked in plain view of the Egyptian soldiers manning guard posts with binoculars just across the border.

Or, as one young woman rifle instructor does, by helping to improve the aim of a young male soldier and then dragging him off to seduce him in the sand dunes. Such frankness in the novel is refreshing. Exhibitionism, sexual fantasies, slack attitudes towards regulations, all appealing material in a novel about army life. But the appeal eventually fades because there's just not much plot here in these 350 pages of episodic scenes about life in the Israeli Defense Force from a female perspective.

I'd really looked forward to this book and hoped for a lot more. We were girls, one of the soldiers tells us about two-thirds of the way through the book, I know we were just girls. We did what we did in the army, and then it was over. All too true.

CORNISH: Our own Alan Cheuse reviewing "The People Of Forever Are Not Afraid." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alan Cheuse died on July 31, 2015. He had been in a car accident in California earlier in the month. He was 75. Listen to NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamburg's retrospective on his life and career.
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