A few years ago, I read a book for an English class I was taking. When I first picked up
the book, I did not think it was going to be something that I would be interested in. Looking back, I can’t believe I ever had that thought. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks became my favorite novel – and I have read a lot of books! This story has so much depth to it and the themes are still extremely relevant.
Throughout history, people have suffered hateful intolerance. Whether this be caused by
religion, skin color, or gender, it has been revealed that during times of hate some people can come together to accept and support each other while others turn on one another. This is shown in the many stories depicted in Brooks’s realistic fiction novel. The tales in the novel illustrate the impact that a single individual can have on history as a whole.
While there may be violent intolerance, People of the Book incomparably represents interfaith acceptance and humanity’s unwillingness to live and let live.
By portraying different cultures, Brooks displays examples of both multi-ethnic and
interfaith acceptance in her novel and the reader gains a sense of the societal standards at that time the stories take place. This allows the audience to better understand just how brave the accepting the characters were. Hanna Heath, the main character, says it best when she states, “Then somehow this fear, this hate, this need to demonize ‘the other’ —it just sort of rears up and smashes the whole society” (Brooks 195). The Inquisition, Nazis, and extreme Serb nationalists all played a role in creating the hateful intolerance that is present in the novel by bringing about fear through violence toward helpless people.
History has a tendency to repeat itself and People of the Book represents this beautifully.
By showing the repetition of anti-Semitism and hateful intolerance, Brooks represents the beauty in the brave few who persevere through the fear. People of the Book brings to life the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah while teaching valuable lessons of respect and forgiveness. All the while showing the hamartia of humanity —the unwillingness to live and let live.
If you’re still skeptical, give it a chance! It may turn out to be your new favorite novel, too.
People of the Book can be found on Amazon.
If you have any novels that you unexpectedly fell in love with please share with us so we can love them too! Happy reading!
by Allison DeHaas