Waking Lions is my book group’s choice for this month. If not for that, I wouldn’t have known to pick it up. What a loss that would have been. It’s an amazing book.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that my book group has been in existence for more than thirty years, that we pick our books at a dinner each June, and that I like our choices most of the time but not all. Admittedly, some people avoid joining book groups precisely because they don’t want to be forced to read a book they wouldn’t otherwise read. This is definitely one view. Reading time is finite, right? Often, though, I’ve been enriched reading books that I don’t personally choose. Waking Lions is a good example.
Billed as a “literary thriller,” it tells of a young Israeli doctor named Eitan Green, who is the whistle-blower against corruption at the hospital where he works and is rewarded by banishment to a remote hospital in the desert. His wife, a police detective, gets a job in that desert town, and their two young sons struggle to adapt.
Hating the desert and frustrated with his new hospital, Eitan is driving home on a deserted road late one night, pushing his four-wheel-drive to the limit, when he hits a man on the road. Immediately, he stops, but quickly realizes that the man will not survive. Should Eitan stay? Leave? Call the police? Spoiler alert: He leaves. Would you?
This is the first of many moral dilemmas facing not only Eitan, but his detective wife, and the widow of the deceased man, plus others in both the police department and at the hospital.
The author is in her mid-thirties, and I am in awe. Her writing is lyrical without being operatic, colorful in a succinct but powerful way. What most awed me about this book is its plotting. It is crafted in the most intricate way, with so many different threads all meaningful, all woven in.
I read Waking Lions in a single day. Granted it was a Sunday in the middle of a snowstorm. Still, it gripped me.