What do the Gaza Strip and Rangeley, Maine have in common? According to Alison Glick, it’s a lot more than you might think. The writer — who will be giving a talk about her debut novel, The Other End of the Sea, on Wednesday, July 27th at 6:00 PM at the Rangeley Public Library — drew on her personal experiences living in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Syria, and a town near Haifa, Israel to craft the book. But she said in a recent interview with The Highlander that the novel’s themes of family, love, and community will resonate most with local readers.

Glick has been visiting Rangeley for summer vacations since 2008, so much of the story was written at her rented cabin on Dodge Pond. She even received her page proofs here, permanently connecting the town to the novel in her mind. But the process of penning a novel was not quite as serene as a carefree summer day on the pond. Glick spent years writing a memoir, but after she completed her first copy, her editor told her that people would be less inclined to pick up a nonfiction book about the Middle East. So, she went back to work for over a year, revising and rewriting The Other End of the Sea into a work of fiction.

Today, the novel is far from an everyday tale of a faraway warzone. “The book doesn’t just deal with themes of justice and war and peace in the Middle East. It deals with themes that a lot of us face in our lives; it talks about relationships, and raising children, and aging, and dealing with our families, with migration and immigration issues,” said Glick.

Set in various locations across the Middle Eastern region, the story follows Zayn, a Palestinian, and Rebecca, a Jewish American. Each has a different relationship with the Middle East, but while enduring war and violence they come together, fall in love, and have a family.

While centering Zayn and Rebecca’s romance, Glick also incorporated what she refers to as “other love stories,” such as a love of community, love of ideals, and love of place. Including these universal values contributed to Glick’s goal of broadening the American perception of the Middle East, taking readers to places they “only hear about in the news when they’re being bombed.” It was important to her to illustrate that while the Gaza Strip, for instance, is under occupation, it is simultaneously a place where people “have gardens, and fall in love, and get married, and form friendships, and do silly, quirky things.”

Finally, Glick hopes that readers search The Other End of the Sea — which is available for purchase at Books, Lines & Thinkers — for aspects that reflect something in their own lives or in those of their families or friends. “Local people can find in this story one about a woman struggling in a relationship, a woman struggling to raise a child…and the bonds of community and family, which I feel and see a lot in Rangeley.”

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