The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau
Posted by Caitie F on March 9, 2012
Summary (from back of book)
Jonas is fifteen when his family is killed during an errant U.S. military operation in an unnamed Muslim country. With the help of an international relief organization, he is sent to America, where he struggles to assimilate-foster family, school, a first love. Eventually, he tells a court-mandated counselor and therapist about a U.S. soldier, Christopher Henderson, responsible for saving his life on the tragic night in question. Christopher’s mother, Rose, has dedicated her life to finding out what really happened to her son, who disappeared after the raid in which Jonas’ village was destroyed. When Jonas meets Rose, a shocking and painful secret gradually surfaces from the past, and builds to a shattering conclusion that haunts long after the final page.
Told in spare, evocative prose, The Book of Jonas is about memory, about the terrible choices made during war, and about what happens when foreign disaster appears at our own doorstep.
There are some books that stay in your mind long after you read them. They are so beautiful and painful that they keep returning time and time again. The Book of Jonas is one of those books.
While this is Jonas’ story, it is also the soldier that saved his life’s story, and it is the story of the soldier’s mother. These three stories are intertwined with one another in a way that only shows the full picture to the reader a little at a time. This stylistic choice is a major reason for why this book stuck with me for so long. Watching Jonas remember what happened and watching his journey to take responsibility for his actions and lack thereof is truly watching a character come to age.
This book feels so current and it will resonate with many people. It shows what the war can be like to the innocent civilians in the Middle East. It demonstrates the soldier internal struggles with revenge and grief. It gives insight to what it can be like for the loved ones at home that have lost someone and can never really know what happened.
This powerful and stunning debut novel is worth reading. Do yourself a favor and go pick it up next week.