The Lonely Tree

Written by Yael Politis
Review by Megan Kitzman

A story that spans over thirty years surrounding the establishment of modern Israel, The Lonely Tree deals heavily in shades of grey. Its two main characters, Tonia and Amos, are both Jews who consider themselves Israeli, but beyond this, their similarities end. Tonia craves a life of security and comfort in America, away from Israel’s constant struggle and danger, while Amos is more militant, seeing security as something to be gained through cunning and weaponry. Yet they are drawn to the determination and strength they see in each other, and their love story, with many twists and turns, forms the core of the book.

Their story, set within the larger framework of Israel’s early wars, is augmented with a large supporting cast of characters, most notably Tonia’s parents and siblings, who each have their own opinions and motivations. The story shifts focus often between characters, and while early in the book, this feels abrupt and confusing, it does add layers to the story, presenting a wider and more nuanced overall view.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Lonely Tree is its focus on internal conflicts. While war is depicted, occasionally graphically, many of the book’s key battles are verbal ones, between individualistic Tonia and her community-minded father and Amos. In the end, freedom and security are defined differently by each character, and their paths to finding both make for a book well worth reading.