Title Desert Skies, Rebel Souls
Author M.P Tonnesen
“A journey into the unknown. A rebellion against family, culture and society. A love against all odds.
From Scandinavia to the Middle East, a young woman travels to discover herself and finds a world of passion and history, war and peace. A whirlwind romance takes a dramatic turn, leaving
Olivia caught between countries, belonging nowhere, and with the love of her life in danger far away.
From the award-winning author of The Cosmopolitan Islander comes an uplifting tale of adventure, conflict and reconciliation that never shies away from brutal reality, yet sparkles with the sheer love of life.
Desert Skies, Rebel Souls is a bittersweet coming-of-age story set under the desert sky against the backdrop of music and key events of the nineties – to be enjoyed by adventurous globetrotters and readers longing to escape.”
3.5★ rounded up to 4 ★
Just like M.P Tonnesen’s previous book The Cosmopolitan Islander, her newest book, Desert Skies, Rebel Souls, is packed with beautiful prose wrapped in a wonderful setting to accompany a lovestory.
Olivia is 18 and comes from a very priviliged family. She’s decided to become a volunteer in a kibbutz in Israel, and leaves behind her familiy and highschool boyfriend.
In Israel she meets a bunch of other young volunteers, among these, two fellow Danish girls named Hannah and Lola. She also meets Chaim, an older, gorgeous Israeli man, who sweeps her off of her feet.
As stated in the beginning, the language is just beautiful, thoughts, feelings, emotions are tangled into a beautiful web, that is so descriptive. At times, you felt as if you were present at bazaar in Israel, or wandering the streets of Tel-Aviv.
Due to this, I felt that book read a bit more as a travel, than “just” a coming-of-age story. I also found myself having a bit of trouble connecting to Oliva, and kind of like Chloe, in M.P Tonnesen’s first book, all the boys are infatuated with her, and she is a bit of a slut shamer, which is really unfortunate. Every once in a while, Olivia will make some comments about the other girls that just read wrong, and even though the book is set in the late 1990’s, and Olivia is only 18, I still feel compelled to comment on it. She refers to them as lazy cows, and makes some oppositions between herself and them.
I really wish that Oliva had defended Lola when Chaim implied that people were calling her a slut. Instead it’s only when Oliva herself is confronted with some stereotypical prejudice that she becomes angry about it.
At times it felt as if there were some, I won’t say plot holes, but passages where I would liked to know more about the situation, instead it would be presented as a flashback, and I would sit back and think to myself, ok … what exactly went down?
The book as said, reads a bit like a travel book, with an accompaigning lovestory. The travel bits are super interesting, and the commentary about Israel, Palestine and the Middle East in general, is interesting, but I want more of the love story!
It’s a whirlwind love story that just moves way too quickly, I like a build up, I like the getting to know you phase, and I missed that a bit in this story. While the scenes with Chaim and Oliva were great, it all went very fast, I’m not going to spoil the ending, but WOW.
Throughout the story it becomes apparant that Olivia has some issues with her mother, and those issues become more clear as she returns to Denmark.
This is a coming-of-age story, reminding me a bit of some of the classic novels I read as a teen by Danish authors, such as Kirsten and Hanne-Vibeke Holst. A lot of times they were character based just like this novel, and focused on one girl as their main character.
The pacing of the novel was great, and it flowed along nicely. It also didn’t feel as heavily packed with information and descriptions as the previous book, and that I really liked.
If you enjoy beautiful writing, a strong female character (with flaws), filled with gorgeous, descriptive sceneries and a coming-of-age story with a diverse love interst, this book is just for you!
I look forward to seeing more from M.P Tonnesen.
Thanks to the author for generously providing me an ARC to review.