As a young Jewish girl growing up in in the Midwest, Lynda Schuster collected stamps and dreamed of the exotic faraway places that produced such glowing artifacts. She resented her unambitious mother as well as the overambitious father who grew dissatisfied with his family life and left them when Lynda was just a young teen. Added to that, a grandmother who insisted that Lynda was just like her father. The combination urged her to run away to volunteer on a kibbutz at seventeen and start a life chasing dreams all across the world. It is as if she concluded that since she wasn’t able to stop the war of emotions that raged inside her, maybe she could write about the wars that broke out across the world instead, bringing attention to events cataclysmic enough that everyone would stop and take notice, even if they didn’t care about her own personal conflicts.
Dirty Wars and Polished Silver is the memoir of the young girl who would grow up to travel the world, to chasing danger while narrowly escape the ravages of it, to find love and lose it and then find it again, to run away from her past until she started running towards it, to work at becoming exactly what she dreamed of but realize that the dream changes when you get to it, to trade her press pass for a diplomatic passport and to embrace the one thing she always said she never wanted.
As the title suggests, Lynda’s life doesn’t follow a single path and the book encompasses the little moments that become mile markers on her journey from the war zone to Washington and all points in between. While Schuster’s life work has been in objective journalism, her storytelling abilities are not limited to unaffected writing. That skill appears here in hauntingly beautiful sentences that relate her personal tragedy with a hybrid of disconnected emotion, if such a thing exists. And whether you agree or disagree with Lynda’s life choices, hers is a story that elicits feeling from the opening quotes to the final sentence.
I received a copy of the book in order to complete this review and the publisher has kindly offered me an extra copy to giveaway to a reader (US only, please). If you’d like to be entered to win, please comment below “Polished Silver” before September 12, 2017.
Note: Giveaway date has been extended to 9/12/17
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