Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone is convinced bones speak, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed during her twelve years of toiling at Israel's storied battlegrounds of Megiddo has delivered the life-altering message she so craves. Which is why Ibrahim and Aisha Barakat's claim that the ghosts of two lovers haunt their home intrigue her. Ignoring the scorn of her peers, Page investigates the site and when she is faced with hard evidence of a cistern beneath the Baharats' living room she knows she has discovered something unparalleled. What she doesn't know yet is that this find will change her life, as well as the world of archaeology, forever.
For a while now I've been reading books that have been recommended by someone, somewhere, somehow. The Drawing In The Dust is my first foray into unchartered territories in a very, very long time and fortunately it didn't disappoint. As a fan of anything paranormal I was attracted to the book by the blurb that promised ghostly presences and the setting - Zoe Klein takes us to Israel, to the world of rich history, archaeological digs and long-lost treasures, the only place on earth where people read their antique records in their own language. The idea of the main character unearthing something unique was more than I could pass up so the book came home with me.
This novel is a chick lit-flavored coming-of-age adventure tied into Page's discovery of the tomb of the prophet Jeremiah buried in the arms of an unknown woman. There is love and lust, international and scientific conflict, and a particularly heart-warming notion that people can in fact all get along, despite our differences. Page has some personal drama and tragedy to sift through (pun intended) before she can come to terms with who she is and what she wants from her life, and her love interest has a similar journey to make so there is quite a bit of almost teen-like angst and self-doubt.
There are a lot of references to the Scripture, faith, some interpretation of the verses and I was very pleased to see in the end that it wasn't overwhelming. In fact, if felt very natural, the religious elements fit very neatly into the story, and learning after I finished the book that the author is a practicing rabbi helped explain why they didn't feel forced or out of place. This is Ms. Klein's life and she transfered it in a way to her character, Page.
The hook of the story is that Page abandons a well-established dig to come work under the house of a couple who say they have ghosts and know there is something there. This paranormal element worked very well in some instances and in others it left me confused because the nature of it seemed to change half-way through the story. I did enjoy however that it wasn't completely cheesy, as it could have been, although it was quite a bit more new-agey than I would have preferred.
The insight into the daily life of the Jewish and Arabic communities in Jerusalem was what grounded this story for me. It's a glimpse into something we don't see on our news and I'm willing to bet most people know nothing about this aspect of life in Israel. I credit the authenticity and intimacy with which Ms. Klein presented these parts of the book to us readers to the fact that she spent time in Israel and most likely witnessed events similar to what she described. There were elements that seemed far-fetched but on the whole it worked for the purposes of this book.
This is an entertaining read and if you're interested in literature with Hebrew motifs and setting as well as very atmospheric writing you will enjoy this book.