A Pigeon and a Boy: A Novel, by Meir Shalev
I recently finished reading (literally) the incredible novel, A Pigeon and a Boy, by Meir Shalev. After reading the jacket, I decided it was a book I wanted to read, and must read, immediately. The book didn’t disappoint me in the least, in fact I was quite surprised, emotionally overwhelmed and amazed at the content and how it affected me.
I am still wrapped in the emotional aftermath from reading this incredible story of love and its power, enduring from the years before Israel’s independence, and through the decades to follow. I am reminded of the fragility of life. This novel details so brilliantly what once was, what could have been, what is, and what the present and future holds.
The story line focuses on a destiny of sorts. During the 1948 War of Independence homing pigeons were often used to deliver messages to the war front. During one battle scene a pigeon handler dispatches one final pigeon, before his death, carrying one amazing message to the girl who awaits it on the receiving end, the girl he has loved since childhoold.
The novel is rich in characters, characters with depth, and rich in vivid details that one can not only visualize, but also feel. We see the emotional waves and veins of life course through the years. Another character is Yair Mendelsohn, who is a tour guide, who specializes in bird-watching trips. He seems lost in time’s continuum, stuck in another realm. His dying mother leaves him an inheritance, with which she would like him to build a house, a home.
The novel is a metaphor for several things, including time and place love and loss, family and what defines “home”. Is home an illumination or place in the heart, is it a physical place, is it genetic memory surfacing, ist is a place we can return to, renovate, build, or is it all or none of those? These are questions we are left to ponder after reading this exellent novel, written with insight and sensitivity to life and to nature, and a universal and extraordinary story, a novel that Shalev has written so beautifully and masterfully.
The heart-wrenching book will stay with me for a long time.