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Mackenzie, Lost and Found by Deborah Kerbel

Mackenzie, Lost and FoundStill dealing with the tragic loss of her mother, the last thing Mackenzie Hill expects or wants is to be forcibly removed from her native Canada to attend an archeological dig in Israel with her eccentric father. Living in foreign Jerusalem couldn’t be more different than her safe home in the Western Hemisphere, with the soldiers everywhere, different languages Mackenzie can’t understand, and currency she doesn’t know how to use—an entire new mix of cultures. Mackenzie slowly gets used to this new life, eased by becoming friends with an American girl who can empathize with her. But her romantic involvement with a Palestinian boy shows her another side of Israel—still culturally rich and unique but also dangerous. Now Mackenzie has to find a way to navigate her mounting problems of grief from her mother’s death, her forbidden relationship with Nasir, and her unintended involvement with a shady black market scheme of stolen artifacts.

Mackenzie, Lost and Found is an ambitious mystery, romance, and coming of age story that also tackles the issues of cultural clashes, poverty, and overcoming grief. In this attempt Kerbel is mostly successful, particularly in her superb depiction of Israel. I enjoyed Kerbel’s accurate portrayal of the different cultures and religious that mix in this small country and the disputes that arise from their contact; however, the depth of these rifts between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity and references to certain regions near Israel such as the West Bank may not be comprehended by readers who haven’t previously studied the history of the Middle East. The mystery with the black market and its connection to Nasir’s, Mackenzie’s boyfriend, family is cleverly intertwined and realistic, showing the negative effects poverty has on the desperately poor. Mackenzie’s personal struggles that accompany growing up are also interesting to read about, and I liked how her trip to Israel ended up being a sort of spiritual cure for her. I really enjoyed these most important aspects of the novel, but the rest needed to be better refined. The romance is slightly clichéd, most of Mackenzie’s background remains unknown, Nasir is poorly characterized, Mackenzie’s first person narration is awkwardly combined with snippets from Nasir’s life, and the ending is disappointingly cut off. These little details are a little bothersome, but I nevertheless appreciate this creative novel.

Mackenzie, Lost and Found appeals to a wide audience, including anyone who enjoys romances, mysteries, history, culture, or coming of age novels. Fans of Cruel Summer by Alyson Noël, Amor and Summer Secrets by Diana Rodriguez Wallach, Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, and Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab will also like this culturally relevant novel.

Rating: 4.25

Review copy from author Deborah Kerbel

5 munch(es) :

Liviania said...

This sounds interesting. I did really love Cruel Summer.

Summer said...

sounds worth a read. I like the cover

thebluerose said...

Great review. I like how the book does include religion in it. I'm sort of learning some stuff in history right now and the Middle East is rich in history.

Anonymous said...

Sounds really good. Great review!

Doret said...

This sounds good. Thanks for the review

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