The Others by Sarah Blau

Thank you to Pushkin Vertigo for an advance readers copy in exchange to an honest review. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Others, translated by Daniella Zamir, is a compelling read that establishes itself from the beginning as a strong contender as one of the best books I’ve read in the month of March. Although I’m writing this review a week after I’ve read this book, Sheila’s character has not left me. She’s still in my heart as one of the most relatable and robust female characters I’ve read in a while. 

From the very first page, I got a very the strong sense of place. Although having never been to Tel Aviv, the city where this story takes place, I found that I knew the place. I don’t know if it’s because I am originally from eastern Europe, and this book is set in the east, that I related so much with the trivialities of the daily life in Tel Aviv. I could imagine myself through out the novel walking the streets, feeling the heat breathing down my neck, seeing my skin developing a tan the more pages I turned.

When I first picked up this book on Netgalley, I was sceptical due to the themes sitting at the heart of the story. Motherhood is a sensitive subject for many but what Blau manages to do in The Others is bring to life the societal pressure that many people who have, or are still living, in the East have to deal with.

Sarah Blau brings what are considered by many taboo subjects to the forefront of a crime novel that reads like an instant bestseller.

The book is mainly told Sheila’s point of view, a former member of The Others, a group created by herself whilst still in college. The Others are, for a better term, a rebellious group of four girls who want to oppose the pressures instilled by society on young girls to become mothers.

The way Blau has structurally developed the story is terrifying. Short and quick chapters snap past you as you try to assemble the puzzle while at the same time feeling the dread of the main character bleeding through the pages. This helps instil in the readers the urgency of the story and the urgency through which Sheila goes through, second-guessing her life decisions and realizing that the motherhood clock ticks inside her. And when Sheila finds herself at the heart of the investigation of the murder of a former member of The Others, she is forced to hold up a mirror to herself only to realise that a serial killer targets the members of her college group. But for what reason? And more importantly who is next?

Brilliantly paced, The Others is a one-in-a-lifetime kind of novel. For someone who hasn’t visited Israel before, never mind Tel Aviv, after reading this book, I felt that Israel should be on my bucket list of places to visit. The Others by Sarah Blau is published on the 13th of April by Pushkin Vertigo. I hope that Blau becomes a regular author translated and published by Pushkin Press as The Others reads like an instant bestseller, and I am very excited to read what she has published or will be publishing in the future.

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