Twelve-year-old David Bloom has an uncommon parental problem in Israel: his mother Elli wears a cross, speaks Norwegian and celebrates Christmas, and everyone on Kibbutz Neve Tamar has a comment, an insult or a piece of advice.
Cruelly provoked by his classmates, David "Half-and-Half" is branded a troublemaker when he strikes back. "Calm down," his father tells him, "Have patience," he says to Elli, still believing that prejudice can be overcome with time and tolerance. "It's been 15 years!" she cries back. "What haven't I done? What haven't I tried?"
When Elli puts in a request to the kibbutz committee to qualify as a kindergarten teacher, narrow-mindedness turns into intolerance. Kibbutz mothers are outraged. "Who knows what she'll teach the children? Let her stay in the sewing-room," they say.
Elli has had enough and wants to try the second option - living in Norway. But David becomes violent and apathetic, and the family bond is stretched to its limits by animosity.
Into this come David's Norwegian grandparents. The Blooms hope that the holiday will restore them, but Elli's yearnings grow: she longs for her Norwegian hometown, for acceptance, for regained control over her son, who she believes is ashamed of her. In the end, she wins and the family sets out, bruised, embittered, but together.
This is a story that alternates between love, responsibility and the need to control anger and intolerance. Those who suffer most are always the children, and David's turmoil and confusion resonate long after the last word has been read.
Illustrations: Adit Pank