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Book Review - The Milestones


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I read far quicker in Hebrew than I do in English. Hebrew is my first language, after all, and it's just much easier for me. So when my page count is down, I take a book in Hebrew to read in bed. I usually get in my 20 pages if I do that. The title of the book I read last week translates into "The Milestones". It sounds awkward in Hebrew as well. This book review is going to contain much of my translations from Hebrew to English, and I'm not a professional, so please keep that in mind.

I'll summarise first (because the blurb is way too long). The story is about Gaia, a 25-year-old violinist who comes back from London to Israel to take care of her dying mother. She reencounters her two best childhood friends: Noam and Tomer. Noam has been pining for Gaia despite being married with a young child. Gaia rediscovers her attraction to Tomer, Noam's half-brother, but he is distancing himself. Classic love triangle.

I'll start with the good stuff. The story has a strong pull, and the characters are compelling. They're all apparently idiots, but they are compelling. I did devour this book, polishing off the 473 pages in a week of bedtime reading. That's saying something about how captivating and readable the book is.

BUT.

You know how they say you should read poorly written books to learn how not to write? I learned A LOT from this book. I'm not sure where the editor was, but she wasn't reading the book, or doing her job, in my opinion.

First, the book could have been 100 pages shorter. Sure, all books could have been shorter, but this book feels like it was sloppily rushed into print. The word crazy is used way too many times (I lost count at 50). There is actually a flashback within a flashback. So much dialogue is exposition that even Tomer, one of the characters, noticed, and said, "I don't get it. What is this, story time?"

Second, the writing is clunky and, in some places, painful to read. My favourite sentence is this: "He looked at me dangerously, like a predator calculating his moves calculatedly before pouncing on his prey and capturing it." I think my translation makes the sentence better, believe it or not. It's not that I don't write bad sentences. I often do. Everyone does. But printing bad sentences is an editing fail.

Finally, there are supposed to be two mysteries in this book, one relating to a crime Gaia witnessed when she was in high school, and the second has to do with the vandalism on Gaia's mother's property. Now, I'm one of those people who can't figure out whodunit until the very end when everything comes to light, but I figured out the first "mystery" in the first 50 pages and the second maybe halfway through the book. As far as I'm concerned, revealing the solution so early is mainly sloppy editing.

So, to summarise, this is a terrible, terrible book that I couldn't put down. In the beginning, it was a little like watching a car wreck. But later on, I did connect to the characters. I just hope that if and when my book is ever ready, I'll find an editor who will save me from publishing unpolished work.

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