"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hope Street Jerusalem by Irris Makler. It is Not Just a Place.

Hope Street Jerusalem 
Author:  Irris Makler
Published:  February 25, 2014
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Pages:  320
Genre:  Memoir
Source:  a complimentary copy was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

I had no idea how demanding this consuming, cruel, dangerous and fascinating place would be. I would fall in love here, I would do some of my best reporting, I would be injured, ending my run of good luck – my life would change dramatically …‘
Moving to a strange city always takes courage, but never more so than in a place where the daily expression of love and hate can turn a simple choice of a romantic table by the window into a life or death decision.
Both a love story and bittersweet tribute to her beloved adopted city of Jerusalem, Irris Makler shines a hopeful light on a part of the world where the news reports often makes it seem impossibly dark. From juggling the danger and unpredictability of her work as a roving foreign correspondent , covering everything from Palestinian suicide attacks to Israeli incursions into the West Bank, to falling in love with a handsome and charming young Israeli, and gaining a mischievous four-legged companion along the way, she allows us an intimate glimpse into a passionate, vibrant and fascinating world.
Adventurous, compassionate and engagingly honest, the award-winning author of OUR WOMAN IN KABUL is a master at capturing the personal stories behind the news we really want to know – and her story is the most interesting of all.
My thoughts:
While the people are running away in terror with fear for their lives, Irris runs towards the scenes of suicide bombings and other tragedies.  She's an international correspondent and that's what she does.
Irris' life is unusual, gritty in its details, often dangerous and sometimes lonely.  As a journalist she has travelled to foreign countries, often staying for months to years at a time.  Leaving Russia for the turmoil of Jerusalem was an emotional departure but she soon fell in love with the city, a man and a lively dog Mia. "Romance is so lovely when it comes along and mugs you." (p. 41) 
Interspersed with tidbits of history and geography, Irris shares her obvious love for Jerusalem despite its inherent dangers.  We see the carnage and the beauty of this city as she interviews and observes and reports.  I'm not sure I am sold on making Jerusalem my next tourist destination, considering the unrest that to this day makes headlines, but I have an appreciation for the people and their country.  It is divided, the streets have seen much blood shed, suicide bombing warnings are a daily occurrence.  They become so commonplace that people don't always take them seriously.  Sitting near the window in a local cafeteria is inadvisable and yet people still do so.  Does one become immune or do you decide to live your life nonetheless?  
Hope Street Jerusalem is a memoir and an introduction to a warring and yet beautiful land. Accompanied by a wonderful man for part of the journey and a loveable dog, Irris Makler reported and lived through a very close call with death herself.  In the six weeks she was unable to use her voice, unable to work, and totally reliant upon someone else, Irris found love renewed and faith.  She gave up a legal career to follow her dreams and her talents.  It took her far in more ways than one.  Further than even she could have imagined.
"I've had an exciting and most unusual life.  I was true to my talents, rather than sticking with what was expected of me.  It had come at a price, and I was not able to have everything.  But that's how it goes.  I don't know many people who have everything, and especially not many women.  As for those few who seem to, perhaps it only appears that way because we are looking at them from the outside.  It's always different inside people's lives; in their hearts."  (p. 306)
I like this quote because it reminds me of several things:  be true to myself, honour my talents, and avoid envy because you never really know what it's like to be in someone else's shoes.  
I really enjoyed Hope Street Jerusalem.  At one time a very long time ago, I dreamed of being a journalist.  But I wouldn't give up this life for that one.  Honestly I've had a few dreams and some of them came true and some are yet to be realized.  It's not too late to pursue them.  Irris reminds us of who we dreamed of becoming just by becoming what she dreamt for herself.  I admire that.

Meet the author:
For the past seven years, award-winning foreign correspondent Irris Makler has been based in Jerusalem, filing stories across the Middle East for radio, television and online news services around the world, including Australia. Previously based in Moscow and London, she reported extensively from Afghanistan as one of the first journalists on the scene after 9/11. She is the author of Our Woman in Kabul.


  1. Hi Shirley! Thanks so much for the lovely review. Jerusalem is a difficult and beautiful place, and glad you managed to convey that even in your review! Best, Irris

  2. I would love a life like Irris' in theory, but definitely not in reality. I'll leave that kind of adventure to braver people, and I'll enjoy reading about their exploits. :)

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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