You Were Strangers: Dispatches from Exile

You Were Strangers: Dispatches from Exile is a beautiful collection of essays by Ashley Makar that reads as one finely woven story. It is a story of exile, her own from her family roots in Egypt and Alabama, and that of young Sudanese refugees in Israel. But it is also the story of eternal return—to her Alabama hometown to care for her dying father, to her love for the language of poetry and prayer, and to a hard-won, embodied faith.

She journeys outward only to find that her most difficult journey will be inward, when a cancer diagnosis comes at 33, first stunning her into silence and then releasing a flow of words embodying her struggle to “live exuberantly.” Eloquent, questioning, and totally necessary, You Were Strangers: Dispatches from Exile is a book to be treasured, a meditation on faith, illness, and what we owe the living and the dead.