Monday, August 05, 2013

The Lonely Tree by Yael Politis

The Lonely Tree
Format: Kindle Edition
Print Length: 444 pages
Publisher: Holland Park Press
Pulication date:26 May 2013
Genre: Historical fiction,
Language: English

Yael Politis(Author)

I grew up in Michigan, but have lived all my adult life in Israel where I have worked as a dishwasher, secretary, librarian, office manager, agricultural laborer, management systems analyst, English teacher, Hebrew-English translator, technical writer, marketing writer, and proposal writer.

My first novel, The Lonely Tree, received a 2009 Book of the Year award from the YWO writer's site and honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Award for general fiction.
I have completed a new novel - Olivia, Mourning - that takes place in Michigan and Pennsylvania in the 1840s. I plan to self-publish but am waiting to complete the sequel to it - The Way the World Is - before publishing.

I love the challenge of recreating daily life in another time and place and based many of the details in Olivia, Mourning and The Way the World Is on letters and journals passed down through my family, over seven generations of lives lived in the Midwest. I received a great deal of insight from my sister, may she rest in peace, who lived in a fairly isolated log home, hunted her own land, and was just as independent and stubborn as Olivia

Book Description

Tonia Shulman does not share her father's dream - forging a Jewish State out of the chaos of British Mandate Palestine. She hates the hardships of life in Kfar Etzion - an isolated kibbutz south of Jerusalem - clearing rocky hillsides, bathing in rationed cups of trucked-in water, and being confined behind barbed wire. Her own dreams have nothing to do with national self-realization; she longs for steaming bubble baths and down comforters, but most of all for a place on earth where she can feel safe. She is in love with Amos, but refuses to acknowledge these feelings. She knows he will never leave his homeland and Tonia plans to emigrate to America. But can she really begin a new life there?

Tonia's story in The Lonely Tree is interwoven with the true story of Kfar Etzion, a kibbutz that was overrun by the Arab Legion during pre-War of Independence hostilities.

My review

To be truthful, in normal days I will never choose to read this kind of novel that has lots of emotions, scary wars, community fights, hatred, poverty and a lot of things that makes my heart-rate rising. But  as a fact, I always love to find and try new genres to read once in  a while. Not to mention, these kind of war-related stories always have a special place in my heart than any other books(from my past experience) as I cannot  forget it's impact on my life after having read it. This story turned out to be exactly like that. 

The lonely tree by Yael Politis runs in a heavy historical background. It is about a  girl, Tonia Schulman, the youngest in her family,  not only is she stubborn and selfish, she always wants everyone to listen(particularly her father) and nod their heads "right" for every thing she says. She can be blamed by none as she is petrified to live in a war torn country(Jerusalem), so she desperately seeks to escape to a country where she and her family members can feel safe and secure. But it is not that easy as it sounds. There are lot of unexpected sad and joyful twists and turns in the story.

The initial few chapters were very difficult to understand as I couldn't relate with neither of the places mentioned in the book nor about the war that was taking place. But as the story progresses, I could hardly able to put down. I liked the book so much after the dramatic introduction of the rich Mrs.Rozmaan. Rachel's story (Amos's mother) was also very hard to miss. She married at the age of fourteen, as Tonia calculates, she gave birth to one children every year until her husband died when she was 23 years old. She lived all her life as a cleaner and also raised all her children with so called dignified poverty. Like her, there are many mind blowing characters in the novel.

The second half of the book was a real spot on. Most of the time, people don't know what they are doing. When they learn their mistakes, it is often too late for them to ask for forgiveness to the ones whom they betrayed but there is always hope for a miracle. When Amos returned for Tonia, I had this same feeling.

Overall, if the first half is about Tonia's childhood struggle, the second half is all about her adulthood and parenthood. It was a great marvel how life does turn out. The Lonely tree is about a lonely girl/woman Tonia who thought living in a safer place is more than enough but  she later finds out living closer to her loved ones is the only right thing to do, even it meant her death. Hats off to Yael Politis for her excellent story-telling.


After reading the full story I felt like the first half could have been constantly reduced into few chapters. It wasn't very engaging to read and it made me to flip through the pages. If the book was given to a Jewish, I think it would have turned out to be just the opposite.

Secondly, there was something that bothered me in the story. Why would Amos go all the way to a foreign country(America) that he barely knows for the one who broke his heart? If he really does want to visit her he could have visited her immediately or after some time when she split from her ex(Emil).This was left unanswered. Maybe he could have had a vision about her self-created sufferings. Other than this, there is no flaw in the story. Everything else in the story was perfect and  fascinating.

Verdict I would highly recommend this novel to any one who wants to learn about Jewish wars, the hatred between them and the Arabs(but the reason not clear) and how other nations saw them .

Rating 4/5

Excerpt from the novel

I used to have this dream when I was little. Tonia looked back at the doctor. 'There was this crippled boy in my class at school. Dov Sharon was his name. One of his legs was way shorter than the other, so he limped and all the kinds made fun of him, but I liked him and I felt bad for him. In this dream, i was sitting by a lily pond and a good fairy, you know like in the wizard of Oz appeared and said she could grant me three wishes. I told her I only wanted one. She shook her head and said she could arrange a bicycle or clothes.

Dr.Meyers smiled, "That's some dream. Go on."

‘I begged her. Please, please, please. That’s all I want. Just fix his leg. Can’t you roll all three wishes together? She said she’d have to go ask her boss and she would come back tomorrow. The next day she said there was something she could do for Dov. She could take his crippled leg away – but only if she could give it to someone else. And she could only give it to a person who agreed to accept it. I could have her cure Dov, if I was willing to be a cripple instead of him. Then we could take turns with the leg. You know, pass it back and forth. But if he refused to take it back, I would be stuck with it forever.’

‘That’s some test of trust.’ Dr. Meyers shook her head. ‘So what did you do?’

‘Woke up. But ever since then, every couple I see, I look at them and wonder if they are a Share-a-Leg couple.

‘Do you know many?’

‘I don’t think there are many in the world. My parents were.’

‘And this Amos fellow, you think he would have made a Share-a-Leg husband?’

‘For sure.’

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  1. great review! new follower :)

    Cierra @ Books Ahoy

  2. Thanks for stopping by. I loved your blog:)