I am an avid reader of fiction that takes place in my part of the world so I was eager to get my hands on a copy of this book. It's obvious from the writing that the author has spent time here, getting to know the lay of the land enough to be comfortable fictionalizing parts of it in her novel, which I found quite innovative.
So much is written about the world's dependence on oil from the Middle East, yet remarkably little appears in print (non-fiction as well), about the water situation in this region. Israel has developed quite an advanced water economy, but not so its neighbors. There is a very real potential for water wars in the near future.
What I liked about this book was its main characters, especially Grace, with her humorous voice and unique way of looking at things. It was an innovative idea to have Grace's entire family along for this romp through deserts, and Jerusalem's Old City winding alleyways, and under archaeological sites. It was funny that each member of the family was involved in something secret, yet they all felt they had to guard their clandestine activities from each other.
A starring role in the book's title, as well as in the plot, has been given to dromedaries, and that was quite unusual, even for books about Israel. (For those not in the know, I'm referring to camels). Yet that said, I wished the camels were better described. What's it like to ride a camel? Hump!
I have high hopes that the author will follow up this debut appearance by giving readers a real feel for the places she has them visit. I followed the story with interest, but I never felt that I could really connect with the scenery described, or get excited about what I was reading. The author knows her stuff, but she needs to give readers a bit more. If this book leads to a series, I'm betting my camels that this will be addressed in future writing.
NLB Horton is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. She has surveyed Israeli archaeological digs accompanied by heavy artillery rounds from Syria and machine gun fire from Lebanon. She lives on a peak in the Rocky Mountains. When Camels Fly is her first novel.
Buy When Camels Fly and read it now!
Originally published at The Times of Israel.