Jemma Wayne: Chains of Sand
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me for review by Legend Press as part of their Legend 100 Club.
Publisher: Legend Press
Publication Date: June 1st 2016
He has always been good at tracking down things that are hidden, like cockroaches in his mother’s kitchen cupboard, or tunnels in Gaza.
At 26, Udi is a veteran of the Israeli army and has killed five men. He wants a new life in a new place. He has a cousin in England.
Daniel is 29, a Londoner, an investment banker and a Jew. He wants for nothing, yet he too is unable to escape an intangible yearning for something more. And for less. He looks to Israel for the answer.
But as the war with Hamas breaks out, Daniel cannot know that the star-crossed love of a Jewish girl and an Arabic man in Jerusalem a decade earlier, will soon complicate all that he thinks has become clear.
Chains of Sand is a work of contemporary and literary fiction that brings the reader to the heart of the fight between Israel and Palestine – Hamas. However, Wayne doesn’t focus solely on the war between rival cultures, religions etc – but on the ways in which this fight affects the lives of Israeli’s living in Israel, and those living elsewhere.
At first I found this novel to be a bit slow of pace as the characters were first introduced and their circumstances developed. There are a lot of passages filled with the mundane and trivial workings of domestic life as family members and loved ones bicker, and the hopes and fears of our characters are questioned by those around them. Eventually I found this novel began to pick up when the first scene between the Israel army and the enemy is brought to the attention of the reader, truly highlighting the underlying theme of this novel.
I love that Wayne focuses on the consequences of this war and how it affects the citizens as opposed to those fighting and losing their lives. Though there is an element of that in regards to Udi, it is not in your face and it is quite easy to forget that he has fought in the war, lost companions, and experienced death and destruction. Instead, Wayne focuses on issues of family, culture, religion, and race throughout the novel showing the similarities and differences between Israeli’s living in Israel (Udi), and those living in Great Britain (Daniel) alongside the racial tension and differences between Muslims and Jews (Kaseem and Dara). Wayne really drives home the point that not all Jews, Muslims etc are a part of this war and that the majority of the citizens living in these war-torn countries want to make a better life for themselves and end the fear that haunts them every time they enter a confined space or a moving vehicle. Similarly, Wayne, through Daniel, also showcases how there are those that want to help with the fight; those that believe that if they don’t do something to help win the war then they are not truly a part of their culture whilst also wanting to alter the stereotypes placed upon them by those not truly conversant in events taking place. It is thought-provoking and, giving events such in the past year with regards to Syria etc, makes you think about the actions of yourself, your culture, your community. It truly brings a greater understanding to a topic that isn’t being given more coverage.
Alongside all the themes, Wayne brings developed and human characters that are flawed and just as confused as any other human being. All of these characters build and grow stronger as events unravel and information is handed to them, justifying their actions and reasonings and solidifying themselves within the narrative, and within their selves. As the narrative progresses, it becomes clear that all of the characters and their respective narratives are linked subtly and in unique ways that don’t fully emerge until past the halfway point. I enjoyed this aspect of the novel as it helped to show how each character has been affected by the same, yet different, events and how they came to be where they are in the present day.
Wayne does a brilliant job at highlighting and exposing the truth of these events and bringing a greater understanding to those, such as myself, who may not truly understand how the citizens, and those who are and who are not involved, in the war respond to prejudice, racism, segregation and so on. It is a hard-hitting novel in some places which shows the differences between British and Israeli society, Muslim and Jewish culture but I believe that it is an important narrative to be told.