ARC Review: Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv by Joshua Faudem, Jack Baxter, and Koren Shadmi


Title: Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv

Author: Joshua Faudem, Jack Baxter, and Koren Shadmi

Release Date: June 8

Publisher: First Second Books

Source: First Second on NetGalley (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)

Check this book out on Goodreads.

Preorder this book at: Chapters | Book Depository

3 stars

Mike’s Place was one of the few spots in Tel Aviv where Jews, Christians, and Muslims could hang out peaceably, surrounded by the expats who filled the bar every night. It was a cosmopolitan haven from the conflict, a local gem that many pointed to as a hopeful sign that peace could come to the Middle East after all. In the spring of 2003, filmmakers Jack Baxter and Josh Faudem had just begun making a documentary about the phenomenon of Mike’s Place. And then the bar was destroyed in a suicide bombing that took three lives and wounded another fifty people—an attack that changed Jack and Josh’s lives forever.  With art from Israeli cartoonist Koren Shadmi, Mike’s Place is a gripping nonfiction accounting of the lives of a handful of people who came together in hope, then had to find their way together through despair. (Source: Goodreads)

Mike’s Place tells the true story of events that occurred in 2003 in Israel when two suicide bombers attacked a nightclub and killed 3 people. The club was having a documentary made about it at the time which has since been completed and released (Blues by the Beach). This book relates the making of the documentary and the events of the bombing. The book also promotes a message of peace and of hope for the future.

I found this to be an interesting read. At times it was a little hectic which made it a little tiring to me, but it was still interesting. There’s a lot of political references as well which means its hard to understand with knowledge of the specifics of the political situation in the Middle East. I don’t know that I was a huge fan of this graphic novel, its hard to find heavy content enjoyable, which is why deciding on a rating was hard for me.

An easy place to start is the art. I think the art was good though I’m not a huge fan of some stylistic choices. The proportions and overall body sketches were kind of weird to me at times, though not always. The amount of detail was good for the most part. I didn’t find the art as compelling as I had found the cover when I requested the book on NetGalley though, which made it kind of disappointing. These were drawings of real people so there isn’t much to comment on beyond that.

In terms of content I think it was well written and the choice of subject was really good. I’m not an expert on the political situation in the Middle East so I can’t really comment on the political content of the book beyond saying I think the focus of the book, on the non-political and on the hope for the future, was very good and is an important part of education about the situation. I think the fact that this book tried to correct misconceptions that people have about the Qur’an, by way of several quotes from the Qur’an throughout the book, was really a great idea, especially as many people believe that it promotes violence and the type of terrorism this book depicts. I think the focus on hope and peace is also excellent. Of course we all hope for peace, but to see how people in Israel really live and the way they want to live without war and without the kind of violence that occurred, really is an excellent thing to see. The way they bounced back to show everyone they wouldn’t be brought down but also because they continued to be a sanctuary to everyone, Jewish, Islamic, and Christian, was really great. The overall message you get from the book was quite good.

I also think that it was a very interesting book. I wasn’t aware of this suicide bombing in particular, so reading about it was really interesting. I think it was informative which was a positive. The epilogue was extremely helpful in filling in any information I didn’t even realize I was missing out on. I definitely think the content was excellent and had an extremely good focus. As I mentioned there are some problems with flow as the story follows a lot of characters and frequently bounces around, breaking up the flow of the book and sometimes creating confusion.

Overall, this is a very compelling story about some very interesting and wonderful people. The attack was of course not a good thing, but that those who were there were able to carry on and create content to educate and encourage people is a positive. I would recommend this book to readers of political science book as it may be a little harder for general comics fans to get into.

Ramble on,

Have you read Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel AvivLet me know your thoughts in the comments!
Check out Joshua Faudem at his website.
Check out Koren Shadmi at his website and Twitter.
Connect with me on Goodreads, BlogLovin, and Twitter.

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