Ibtisam and Neta, a Palestinian and an Israeli girl, are the stars of the Peace Circus, based in Jerusalem, in which youngsters from both peoples juggle together for audiences from across the world. Before leaving on a circus tour of Italy, Neta visits Ibtisam at her home in Beit Safafa, an Arab village. There she meets her older brother Shafik and a moving love story unfolds. The two meet in secret by the Old City walls of Jerusalem and walk the alleys of the shuk, searching for a place to call their own, but to no avail. As time passes, their love has to struggle against the troubled reality they live in: one day, Shafik is pulled off a bus and searched by an Israeli security guard. Traumatized by the experience, he avoids Neta and although she tries to heal the rift between them, reality proves too strong. Sadly, the two young lovers go their separate ways. And the reader is left with a sense of loss as well as, maybe, the awareness that this frustrating reality needs to be changed.
Illustrations: Ruth Gvili