What would you do if you were faced with a task that went completely against the values on which you were raised? What would you do if refusal to carry it out would doom your professional career, but doing it might distance your wife, and could even tear your family away from you? And what would you do if your husband was drawn into a swirling action that went completely against your humanitarian spirit? If his activities and life style differed so markedly from the values you wish to endow to your children?
"You don't break up a home. It’s that simple: a home is not something you take apart, period. Once you get married, you’re married for life. From then on, you just keep climbing the ladder until you reach the top. There’s no opportunity to stand still and look down, nor to look around to see whether or not it suits you. End of story."
It is with these words - spoken so authoritatively by Colonel Udi Am-Shalom - that the novel Disengagements - Final Call for Happiness begins. He makes this statement, however, before his sensitive wife Yael meets an experienced older man, a master artist of love and courtship, and before he himself has to evacuate a family from a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip in the line of duty, on government orders. Only after these two life-changing events does Udi grasp how lonely and isolated he really is, and how deeply he yearns for the most basic bond ”" the one between a husband and a wife.
This contemporary novel follows the unfolding events leading to the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and their impact on the life of one typical Israeli family. Although this withdrawal is geographically far from them, it penetrates the deepest cracks in the walls of their home. Constantly flowing from the personal into the national it depicts the acute pain that disengagements entail, and the agony that ensues when something whole is unraveled. The national turmoil serves as a backdrop to the gradual crumbling of the Am-Shalom family, and to the reconstruction efforts aimed at bringing new hope and meanings.
I enjoyed this story, even though at times, it hurt my heart to read it. There is a lot that I can relate to in this book...having a child with a disability, similar to that of the son. The military service of the husband and wife, just like me and my husband. The similarities, can help you relate to a story, and at times place you directly into what the characters are going through, which makes you feel the story even more.
The opening dialogue, while not something that many people would agree with these days, is something that was common place during the marriages of our grandparents or parents. You don't break up a marriage...you work through your rough spots, which is exactly what the two main characters in this book did.
As you read through this story, you hear the perspective of each member of the family...you experience the roller coaster that they are on, and you find yourself feeling all of their emotions. This is just a really great book, and one I highly recommend!