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Peacekeeper’s Daughter

Peacekeeper’s Daughter is the astonishing story of a French-Canadian military family stationed in Israel and Lebanon in 1982-1983. Told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old girl, Peacekeeper’s Daughter parachutes the reader into the Lebanese Civil War, the Palestinian crisis, and the wave of terrorism—including the bombing of the American Embassy—that ravaged Beirut at the height of the siege. This novelistic memoir moves from Jerusalem to Tiberius, from the disputed No-Man’s Land of the Golan Heights to Damascus, and on to Beirut by way of Tripoli, crossing borders that remain closed to this day.

It’s June, 1982. Twelve-year-old Tanya and her family are preparing to leave their home in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to move to Israel and Lebanon, where her father will serve a one-year posting with the United Nations. While they’re packing up, Israel invades Lebanon. The President-elect of Lebanon is assassinated. Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children are murdered at the Sabra-Shatila refugee camps in southern Beirut. The Middle East’s relative peace explodes into waves of violence.

It is in the midst of this maelstrom that the family arrives in Israel, and settles into an apartment. And one day Tanya and her brother walk to school; yet nothing is ordinary, nothing is familiar. The simple act of walking down the street is fraught with peril. Violence may come at them from any direction at any time.

Peacekeeper’s Daughter is a coming-of-age story, as well as an exploration of family dynamics, the shattering effects of violence and war—and the power of memory itself to reconcile us to our past selves, to the extraordinary places we have been and sights we have seen.

About the Author

Born in Germany to French-Canadian parents, Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt grew up on various army bases across Canada, from Quebec’s North Shore to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. When she was twelve years old, her family moved to Tiberius, Israel, where her father served as a United Nations peacekeeper on the Golan Heights. When war broke out with Lebanon, Tanya and her family moved to Beirut, where they lived for seven months, at the height of the Lebanese civil war. Tanya’s journal from 1982-1983 became the seeds of her memoir, Peacekeeper’s Daughter. Tanya holds an MA in English Literature from McGill University and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. She lives in Quebec’s Eastern Townships with her husband and four children.
Find out more about Tanya and her writing at https://tanyaallattbellehumeur.com

Awards

Shortlisted for the Mavis Gallant Award for Nonfiction

– Citation from the Jury:

“Peacekeeper’s Daughter is one of the most compelling books I’ve read in a long time. Twelve-year-old Tanya, whose father is a UN peacekeeper, thinks her family is leaving Yellowknife for Israel, “a place of wonders: three harvests of strawberries a year.” Shortly after they arrive, though…, the entire region spirals into conflict. Her parents try to minimize the violence and terror outside the door, to carry on as if this were any overseas assignment, as if they are so much safer than they really are. But young Tanya is not fooled. She knows that nothing, nothing is safe. Not her home, not her family, not even her pubescent body.

This coming-of-age story is riveting and beautifully told through the eyes of a curious and highly observant teenager who just wants to fit in and be safe.”

 

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