Book Review: The Stairway to Heaven by Therese Zrihen-Dvir

March 21, 2011

I got this book for free.
Attention Book Bloggers: After this review was published I got several nasty and personally insulting emails & comments on LibraryThing (as well as the comments below).  I do not want to engage in this type of mud slugging hence I will not publish the emails; However, just be aware of this if you decide to read any books by this author.

My rating for Stairway to Heaven – 2

About:
“The Stairway to Heaven” by Therese Zrihen-Dvir (website) is a short fictional story which takes place in Israel. The book is told from the view point of two women after they had witnessed a horrific act of terror.

  • 160 pages
  • Publisher: Gefen Publishing House
  • ISBN: 9652294748

Purchase “The Stairway to Heaven” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on:
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Thoughts:
I was excited to receive “The Stairway to Heaven” by Therese Zrihen-Dvir as I have been in the Beit Lid bus station more times than I could count and the double suicide bombing really hit home with me.

The story revolves around the Beit Lid massacre which happened on Sunday January 22, 1995. Sunday morning is when many Israeli soldiers return to their bases and the Beit Lid junction is usually swarming with soldiers waiting for a bus. At 09:30 AM, a terrorist dressed as a solider feigned illness and when he was surrounded by people trying to help he detonated himself. About 20 minutes later another suicide bomber ran to the area which has began assisting the wounded and exploded himself as well.
Twenty two soldiers died and 69 others were wounded.

However, I could not get into this book. While the story was somewhat interesting, the characters were not flushed out and I was unable to relate to any of them. The dialog was also forced which made the story difficult to read, especially due to the seriousness of the subject matter.

“We are men,” the blond soldier replied, “and it is not only age that makes a man, it is how responsible he feels for his country, his duty, and faith.”

I know many Israelis and none of them – not one – speaks like this or as any of the characters in the book.

The author uses the book to express her feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through her characters but the book is so one sided that it almost borders on Israeli propaganda.

I would love to read a non-fiction account of the Beit Lid massacre but this one simply didn’t do it for me.

Synopsis:
The book follows two woman, Naomi and her mother, after the aftermath of the double suicide bombing in Beit Lid bus station. The two try to understand why there is no peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and the daily threats of violence.

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Stairway to Heaven
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15 Comments

  • Courtney Rene March 21, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Thanks for the great honest review.

    ctny

    • Rubby March 22, 2011 at 1:38 am

      Do you call this a review???
      Honest???? how can you SAY???

      • zohar March 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

        No, actually I don’t call this a review, thanks for pointing it out.
        The term “book review” in the title is mainly for SEO and for the benefit of RSS feeds, however I make it very clear that my posts are about my enjoyment and thoughts about the book and not a review.

      • Rena March 24, 2011 at 10:27 am

        He is not being actively mean. He is not even being passively mean. He is pointing out he had a problem with the book. (I have a problem with just that snippet. Nothing drives me crazier than descriptions instead of names. Also, that snippet of dialog is clunky as all hell.)

  • Suzanne March 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I also thank you for the honest review.

    It sounds like the book needed to be longer to develop the story and the characters.

    Have you read Almost Dead by Assaf Gavron? It covers similar territory.

  • Therese March 22, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Good morning Zohar,
    The Stairway to Heaven, according to your critic is a one sided book… israeli propaganda… no doubt. I wrote it and I did my best to reproduce everything as it actually happened… If it is israeli propaganda in your eyes, then, I am glad. I would hate to be on the other side of the fence such as a palestinien propagandist. Your critic doesn’t cover at all the real contents of this story and is here to expell some hint of your own conceptions of the conflict… beside being unfair.
    Good day.

  • Chrisbookarama March 22, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Seems like a fair and honest review to me.

    Not everyone likes every book and when authors argue with reviews it makes them look sad. Don’t do that.

  • Ashley March 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I don’t think it is good to ever be completely one-sided. There are always going to be two sides to an issue, and it is impossible to properly judge without at least knowing both sides.

    Sorry the book didn’t work for you! Good luck finding a non-fiction version!

  • Rubby March 22, 2011 at 10:59 am

    @Ashley,
    I purchased the book and enjoyed it very much… I also read reviews on it and one of them is hereunder:
    http://www.sdjewishworld.com/?p=12566
    Book offers hope in midst of Middle East tragedy
    The Stairway to Heaven by Therese Zrihen-Dvir, Geffen Publishing House, 2010, ISBN 978-965-229-474-6, 139 pages including afterword.

    By Donald H. Harrison

    Donald H. Harrison
    SAN DIEGO – This historical work of fiction is a story of hope. Notwithstanding the book’s title, it is not about the celestial kind of hope; it is about human kind’s ability to pick itself up, even from the worst tragedies, and to go on living, perhaps to flourish.

    We meet Naomi, a woman of her mid 50s, when she rushes to the hospital a young Russian immigrant Israeli soldier who had been wounded in a Palestinian’s suicide bombing of a commuter bus. The boy had traveled to Eretz Israel alone, and had no one to look after him during his recuperation. Naomi took on the responsibility, making “Eddie” part of her household.

    We learn that this act of kindness was in character for Naomi, whose life—and that of her adult daughter Nicole—had been earlier transformed when they witnessed the double suicide bombing on Jan. 22, 1995 of the Beit Lid bus station—an act which took the lives of 22 Israelis and wounded hundreds of others.

    Shell-shocked, Naomi and Nicole attended the funerals and paid condolence calls to the families of as many of the victims as they could. Yet even amid all this death, their lives began to stir. In transporting a victim to the hospital, Nicole meets a young Israeli medical doctor and they become dedicated to each other. It takes Naomi much longer, but she meets a wealthy engineer with whom she might find a lasting relationship.

    The book is far from Pollyannaish. Naomi, the protagonist, attempts to learn why Palestinians would choose death over coexistence with Israelis, why Palestinian mothers would raise their sons to become “martyrs,” or why Palestinian crowds would celebrate these “martyrs’” deaths with cheers and distribution of sweets. She arranges a meeting with a woman whose family member was a “shahid” or martyr, but neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli can make the other understand her point of view.

    At another point, when Naomi expounds her viewpoints to Palestinian construction workers employed to build a house for Nicole, to them her dreams of peaceful relationships and humanitarian cooperation sound like so much ranting.

    While offering us debate, this book does not provide answers inasmuch as the questions are unanswerable. It does, however, provide excellent insight into the Israeli psyche – and provides human dimension to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    *
    Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

  • 365andMe March 22, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Authors need to wake up & stop criticizing opinions about their book. Makes them look like unprofessional idiots.

    And a note to friends of the author: posting argumentative comments only makes readers not want to read the book. If we (the readers) are left alone to chat and discuss the book–the good, the bad, and the ugly, the discussion will intrigue us. We feel challenged to see for ourselves if we agree or not. This happens all the time on places like GoodReads and LibraryThing.

    New authors or inexperienced ones like this should take a look at the best sellers out there. Do you see them posting negatively on book blogs? Do their friends?

    Zohar, you asked on Twitter if you should publish the negative emails. The answer is yes. Other bloggers need to be aware of this reaction. That way, they can avoid this book. Get the word out and help your fellow book blogger.

  • David King March 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    As a new blogger myself it is interesting but yet rather depressing to see this type of reaction from an author.

    People are entitled to their own thoughts, and to be honest negative reviews can still generate interest in readers to go out and see for themselves if they agree with the reviewr.

    Further to this, I think authors should use negative criticism to actually improve future books etc. I am sure it is said many times that you negative criticism is much more use to someone that positive criticism.

  • BarbaraHightower March 22, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Well, this is interesting, the last I heard authors want their books reviewed and rather bad or good they should take it and learn from it.

    I am glad Zohar was honest with his thoughts of the book. The author should re-read what he said and learn from it for the next book.

    If you don’t want criticism, then don’t put your book out there. We all are entitled to our opinions. You are always going to get good or bad reviews that is part of the game.

  • bookspersonally March 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Well put, David King.

  • Rubby March 22, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    @361 and David King,
    Zohar did mention that it isn’t a book review but only personal enjoyment and thoughts… the pity here is that the title includes BOOK REVIEW, which isn’t the case, and the absurd is that there are bloggers who automatically replied: Thank you Zohar for your honest review…how they could tell if they didn’t read the book…
    Sorry buddies to disappoint you but this entire blurb mean what exactly? The author was indeed misled here. She believed that a review was written on her book while it is only a reader’s thoughts of it. I am not advocating here for the author or for our friend Zohar. My opinion concerning books is that there are many excellent books in the market that are either well reviewed or badly reviewed. Not everyone harbors identical conceptions and taste, thus you can get versified reviews on the same book. A public opinion is never homogeneous and I am glad it isn’t otherwise our world would be terribly boring.
    This book has particularly received some fourteen reviews, available at Librarything. The majority is positive, running from 5 stars to 1 star…there are a few that noticed in it some Israeli penchant, which is not surprising though, the author is Israeli.
    I would like also to add a personal opinion concerning authors. It takes some guts to write a book and a tremendous effort and merit to become a published author. Has anyone of you ever tried to penetrate this field? It is almost like flying to the stars. Authors experience a lot of setbacks before they are published. They obviously anticipate reviewers to rank their work professionally. There is no war declared between authors and readers, only some kind of integrity is indeed requested… Have fun,.

    • Steve March 23, 2011 at 11:50 am

      Do yourself a favor and just shut up already. You already dug yourself into a hole and stuck your foot in your mouth. If you can’t take criticism you shouldn’t be an author.
      Period!

      When I published my first book (working on my seventh novel now) my publisher told me that the only appropriate response to any review (besides nothing) is “thank you for taking the time to read my book”.

      Just be thankful Zohar was kind enough not to publish your emails and private comments. I can tell you that you would not get that kind of courtesy from other book bloggers.

      Zohar – you got a great blog man. Keep up the good work.

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