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Reviewed by Dr. Jordan Alexander for Readers' Favorite
Sand and Steel: A Memoir of Longing and Finding Home by Dorit Sasson provides a window into the mind of a migrant that straddles two homes, mindsets, and cultures. “In Israel, one needs to adjust one’s expectations constantly and adapt to new situations. You have to be amenable, moldable – like sand. So unlike America, where a strong will and firm resolve are prized,” she writes in her memoir. Be prepared for the conflicting emotions that face the native New Yorker after she left America, searching for her roots and independence in Israel. A soldier that settles on a kibbutz after the second Israel-Lebanese war, the narrative of Sand and Steel follows Sasson and her family as they courageously leave their beloved Israel, with kosher markets, street vendors, and “bakeries wafting fragrant burekas and chocolate-filled croissants” in search of better prospects in the American dream. Sasson covers poignant topics wrapped up in nationhood, identity, and heritage while feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Can she rebuild roots, a family, a sense of community and belonging that she enjoyed on the kibbutz?
I appreciated Dorit Sasson’s vulnerability in Sand and Steel: A Memoir of Longing and Finding Home. She shares raw thoughts and her confusion as a mother, wife, and woman searching for the best solution for her family when there is no ‘right answer.’ Her ties to Israel pull her spiritual soul while the economic benefits of Pennsylvania and work for Haim, her husband, add to the emotional struggle. Is she a ‘traitor’ for leaving Israel, Sasson asks herself, as her memoir see-saws us across the ocean, with hope and hardships like finding a house, a job, and routines. Her search leads Sasson to find a new seed emerging as a writer. Sand and Steel follows on from her award-winning debut: Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces. “Think good, and it will be good;” this Yiddish adage is peppered throughout Sasson’s uplifting book. Overall, Sasson’s memoir is a beautiful ‘home is where the heart is’ story. Sand and Steel reminds us of the power of home and offers an important perspective as our global community continues to mix cultures and people – all of whom want to belong and find a place to call home.