Masha Hamilton's The Distance Between Us

The Basics: As a foreign correspondent for an American newspaper covering the mayhem in Israel, Caddie Blair has to constantly justify her existence. Why is she putting herself in harm's way? Why does she chase after ambulances and bombs when most people head in the other direction for safety? After she's ambushed in Lebanon on her way to interview a terrorist, these questions become all the more urgent for those who know her. They want her to take some time to recover, because they can see she's on the edge of sanity.

The Catch: Caddie, however, hasn't worked off all the adrenaline that was stored up in her muscles during the attack. She's angry, scared and exhausted all at once, and she can't work that out of her system by sitting still. So she throws herself at the violence headlong. It seems to others like she has a death wish, but all she really wants to do is feel alive. All alone in the world after the death of her grandmother, Caddie has no other way of convincing herself that her existence matters. When one of her photographer colleagues questions why she doesn't take a promotion and move to New York, intimating that she's young enough to start a family and have a life, she snipes, "You think that... because I'm a woman. You assume a man makes this kind of choice deliberately, but a woman must secretly want to be a wife and mother."

Why It's Good: Masha Hamilton, who was a foreign correspondent for the AP for 10 years, gets at the inner strains and stresses of the journalists who do this kind of work, with the confidence of a fellow traveler. Without moralizing about the Middle East conflict, she focuses on the emotions of the journalists who are trying to stay objective but are having trouble being dispassionate. This year has been one of the most deadly ever for reporters, with over 100 killed while covering conflicts from the Middle East to Chechnya to the Ivory Coast, and the best way to immortalize this fearless group is with a great story.

iVillage Mood Meter: Will get you thinking and break your heart

Author: Masha Hamilton
Publisher: Unbridled Books Price: $24.95

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