A Country Between
Making a Home Where Both Sides of Jerusalem Collide
"A Country Between reminds us that grief is as indispensable to joy as light is to shadow. Beautifully written, ardent and wise." —Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Secret Chord, People of the Book, and March
Moving her family to a war zone was not a simple choice, but she's determined to find hope, love, and peace amid the conflict in the Middle East.
When young mother Stephanie Saldana finds herself in an empty house at the beginning of Nablus road—the dividing line between East and West Jerusalem—she sees more than a Middle Eastern flash point. She sees what could be home.
Before her eyes, the fragile community of Jerusalem opens, and she starts to build her family to outlast the chaos. But as her son grows, so do the military checkpoints and bomb sirens, and Stephanie must learn to bridge the gap between safety and home, always questioning her choice to start her family and raise her child in a country at war.
A Country Between is a celebration of faith, language, and family—and a mother's discovery of how love can fill the spaces between what was once shattered, leaving us whole once more.
This candid, tenderly rendered love story begins in a Syrian monastery, where Salda a (Bread of Angels), a Texas-born journalist, falls for Fr d ric, a French novice monk. Salda a writes about both her growing adoration and her concerns, first as the two make a leap into marriage and then when, only months later, they settle in Israel. Thanks to Fr d ric's church connections and the first of many incredible coincidences, as Salda a writes, they find a home owned by French-speaking nuns on 2,000-year-old Nablus Road, on the Palestinian side of the city. The house is a microcosm unto itself, the first floor occupied by an Arab grocery store and Mexican nuns with a hidden garden. Salda a nicely describes the people in her neighborhood, such as the falafel seller and town crier who reports on everyone's comings and goings, as well as the shops with old Chanukah chocolates, Christmas decorations, and Israeli and Arab products side-by-side. In time, the couple's bond with the people of Nablus Road solidifies; the Palestinian community embraces them, especially after they have a son. A year later, fighting between Israel and Hamas endangers the neighborhood. Salda a describes in wonderful detail how, as their family expands, they stay in a place where so little makes sense, guided solely by their hope in the future.