This is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a country's youth in a constant state of preparedness for war. The author, herself a veteran of Israel's compulsory military service, presents us with a fractured - and occasionally confusing - view of the folly and futility of conflict.
By showing what it is like for female school-leavers at age 18 to be conscripted as an accepted part of the `curriculum', Shani Boianjiu provides us with a uniquely feminine vantage point. This serves to make the reader all the more acutely aware of the sheer physicality of warfare and the lasting trauma to young minds after conscription: "...the problem was the future of the past. It existed outside our heads, too large."
Some press reviews have concentrated on the three main voices of the teenage girls, Yael, Lea and Avishag, and how they while away their time on guard-duty by discussing boys. This may convey the impression that this novel is war-zone chick-lit but that would be doing debut author, Shani Boianjiu, a grave disservice. The writing is very good, often disturbing, occasionally brilliant - with distant echoes of Catch-22.