The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


The Lonely Tree by Yael PolitisGenre:  Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Holland Park Press
Sold by Amazon Digital Services, Inc
Release Date:  May 26, 2013
Pages:  444

About the Book:  Tonia Shulman does not share her father's dream - forging a Jewish State out of the chaos of British Mandate Palestine. She hates the hardships of life in Kfar Etzion - an isolated kibbutz south of Jerusalem - clearing rocky hillsides, bathing in rationed cups of trucked-in water, and being confined behind barbed wire. Her own dreams have nothing to do with national self-realization; she longs for steaming bubble baths and down comforters, but most of all for a place on earth where she can feel safe. She is in love with Amos, but refuses to acknowledge these feelings. She knows he will never leave his homeland and Tonia plans to emigrate to America. But can she really begin a new life there? 

Tonia's story in The Lonely Tree is interwoven with the true story of Kfar Etzion, a kibbutz that was overrun by the Arab Legion during pre-War of Independence hostilities.

Wanda's Thoughts:  This is an intricate tale of a Jewish family living in Palestine during the British Mandate and the horrors of war. It is a story rich in drama and one that will not soon leave your mind with its strong cast of multi-layered characters. And the story unfolds from 1946 - 1967 with many historical facts revealed throughout.

Fifteen year old Tonia Shulman definitely has a mind of her own and is rather hard to like early on in the story. She and her family move from Poland to Palestine, first to Tel Aviv and later to a religious kibbutz, Kfar Etzion, that her father helped to establish. 

There are extreme hardships living here at the kibbutz, and Tonia felt trapped with no way out, and a father who was so stubborn. Josef was obsessed with the creation of an independent Jewish state. Everyone knew that five Arab armies would invade as soon as the British pulled out and it was a war they'd never win. The Jews had problems - no money, no weapons, and little experience in fighting, surrounded by a sea of Arabs. This was not the life Tonia wanted. She longed for a life of comfort and security. Her dream is to escape Palestine and make her home in America. 

Tonia loved Abba, but she wanted a life of her own.  She felt ashamed of him because he would not provide for her education. He only cared about his kibbutz and Tonia had to beg from strangers. Ilana Rozman and her wealthy family provided Tonia's way to a prestigious Hebrew school in Jerusalem, a school that was occupied by kids of doctors, professors, and government officials. They were spoiled, rich kids and this annoyed Tonia, but she realizes she is dependent on the Rozman family's good will to make her dreams come true. She was hoping to earn her diploma and apply for a student visa to the United States and admittance to an American University. 

Tonia meets Amos Amrani, a handsome Yemenite, who fights in the Jewish underground. Amos was bright, proud, and ambitious. A love blossoms between Amos and Tonia and Josef is strongly opposed to their relationship. Tonia would need to relinquish her dreams if she allowed herself to fall in love with Amos. He would constantly be called to arms, and she would live in dread. It just seemed hopeless to become involved with Amos.

There are many struggles and surprises along the way as Tonia fights to overcome a myriad of obstacles and finally finds her way to Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

The book goes through stages of terror, sorrows, and joys - a very emotional read. There is a large cast of characters with complex issues and a storyline that builds to a stunning conclusion. Just extraordinary! 5 stars and this is one you don't want to miss.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Yael Politis
About the Author:  I grew up in Michigan, but have lived all my adult life in Israel where I have worked as a dishwasher, secretary, librarian, office manager, agricultural laborer, management systems analyst, English teacher, Hebrew-English translator, technical writer, marketing writer, and proposal writer.

I have just completed two new historical novels: Olivia, Mourning and The Way the World Is (Books 1 and 2 of the Olivia Series). Both take place in Michigan and Pennsylvania in the 1840s. I love the challenge of recreating daily life in another time and place and based many of the details in Olivia, Mourning and The Way the World Is on letters and journals passed down through my family, over seven generations of lives lived in the Midwest. I received a great deal of insight from my sister, may she rest in peace, who lived in a fairly isolated log home, hunted her own land, and was just as independent and stubborn as Olivia.
Both books are available on Amazon.

Olivia, Mourning:

The Way the World Is

My debut novel, The Lonely Tree, was published by Holland Park Press of London. It received a 2009 Book of the Year award from the YWO writer's site and honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Award for general fiction.