A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy

Metropolitan: Holt. Oct. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781250854971. $29.99. HIST
This riveting account by Thrall (The Only Language They Understand) tells the story of a bus that sets out on a stormy day in a Palestinian neighborhood in the West Bank to take dozens of kindergartners on a field trip. The bus is rammed by a truck, overturns, and catches fire. In the absence of emergency vehicles or personnel, bystanders pull the children and two adults from the wreckage and take them to area hospitals. The parents of the injured children, including Abed Salama, spend the rest of the day trying to track down their children, several of whom do not survive. The book explores the backstories of many of the people who played a role in the tragedy and shows readers what daily life for many Palestinians is like, including the frustrations inherent in it. Palestinian neighborhoods are walled off and then denied typical municipal and infrastructure support, resulting in poor quality roads, vehicles that are not maintained or regulated, and checkpoints that delay needed emergency services.
VERDICT An eye-opening and empathetic analysis of a profoundly personal tragedy. This deeply researched book is insightful as the author reveals the complex issues faced by Palestinians.
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