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The Distance Between Us

Masha Hamilton


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Caddie Blair feels everything strongly--and so she works hard to keep her distance. It's the ethical thing for a journalist to do, especially in a war-torn region like the Middle East. And Caddie wants to believe that nothing is as important as covering "the story."

There's room for passion in her life--but that's only physical. And Caddie keeps even those fleeting attachments under wraps, secretive, because she knows that when a journalist even appears to lose her detachment, she is already lost.

So what is Caddie to feel when her lover dies beside her--shot in an ambush on the way to the next promising political interview, across the Israeli border into Lebanon?

An authentic look at the emotional and ethical chaos within a war correspondent who becomes a bit too involved, Masha Hamilton's The Distance Between Us is a straight-ahead story of human passion--desire, conviction, and the guilt of a survivor--struggling for order within the frayed justice of the Middle East conflict.

A seasoned journalist herself, Masha Hamilton brings to this revealing novel the sharp eye and deep empathy that marked her debut, Staircase of a Thousand Steps (BlueHen, 2001). Beautifully turned, and peopled with an astounding cast of characters who are as true as they are perceptive, The Distance Between Us is finally the portrait of one woman's search for the narrow pass between vengeance and emotional survival, when her only true attachment has been torn away from her.

"If we knew where we were going to fall," the novel's most enigmatic character tells her, "we could spread straw."

Praise For The Distance Between Us

A great story.Will get you thinking and break your heart.”

Searing.”The San Diego Union-Tribune

"The plotting is flawless. The pacing is just right - sometimes reflective, sometimes action-packed. Hamilton is an accomplished stylist as well... Perhaps most unusual of all, Hamilton the journalist gets the fictional journalists just right." The San Francisco Chronicle

One of the strengths of this novel is that it does not judge. Caddie is portrayed as a suffering person responding authentically to loss. Along with Caddie, the reader slips into a charged space, where the air becomes too dense to breathe, or hisses and loses pressure like a deflating balloon. The near-universal desire for revenge becomes all too convincing.”The Jerusalem Post

A foreign correspondent’s façade of emotional invincibility is shattered by the death of a colleague in journalist Hamilton’s sharply etched, emotionally ferocious second novel (after Staircase of a Thousand Steps)....Hamilton no doubt enlists her own experience as a foreign correspondent to effectively flesh out the characters Caddie encounters an affecting, viscerally charged work that offers no easy moral answers.”-- Publishers Weekly, STARRED

"A compelling tale of reprisal and endurance with a rich cast of characters. With prose both beguiling and elegant, the story will strike a chord in readers following current events in the Middle East. Recommended for all public libraries."LIBRARY JOURNAL, STARRED

A page-turner.”Booklist

"[An] exciting novel....we're left thinking about the human tragedy rather than the political scorecard....[Hamilton's] determined to plumb the conflicted motives of people who rush to see danger in the world or in their newspaper. The result is a powerful portrayal of religious warfare and an unsettling challenge to anyone watching."The Christian Science Monitor

Timely, yet eye-opening book for readers far removed from this part of the world, who only see it through news accounts or on TV.”

Extremely well written and compelling.THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US drops us right into the battle zone and forces us to look straight at the inhumanity and simultaneously the hidden personal side”The Bloomsbury Review

Engaging from first page to last....I could endlessly quote passages of glorious prose from this book, but won't. I'll let readers discover Hamilton's gifted way with words for themselves. The author has given us the scents, sights, and sounds of Jerusalem, the sorrows shared by Israeli and Arab cousins. And she's put starkly realistic faces on human weaknesses and strengths. Unbridled Books has picked a winner here.” Midwest Book Review

Hamilton, who has worked as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Russia and Afghanistan, writes convincingly about the emotional challenges of reporting from a place rife with violence. Her terse, no-nonsense prose propels the novel like a thriller, but the undercurrent of moral tension gives it weight.”The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Thoughtfully written.”Kirkus Reviews

What a powerful, intense, beautifully written story. Masha Hamilton takes us right into the brutal heart of the war zone, right into the guarded heart of journalist Caddie Blair. With spare and stunning prose, Hamilton reminds us that the distance between us often isn't as great as we may think.”Gayle Brandeis, author of The Book of Dead Birds

Hamilton presents realistically and sensitively the personal conflicts and emotional exhaustion that journalists face in capturing the lives of the suffering.”Magill Book Reviews

Unbridled Books, 9781932961140, 304pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2005

Conversation Starters from

What are some of the historical and cultural differences that create distance between the Palestinians and the Jews in this story? How does creating distance influence Caddie’s relationship with Marcus? her professional colleagues? her friends? her community? herself?

In an instant, Caddie loses the two elements of her life most dear to her: Marcus and her professional detachment. How has reporting about violence in the past affected her?

After Marcus’s death, Caddie finds herself drawn closer and closer to dangerous situations. What drives this reckless behavior? What other professions encourage similar forms of escape?

What is behind Caddie’s strong attraction to Goronsky?

Lingering thoughts of revenge plague Caddie. Did you expect this?

The female characters in this novel—including Ya’el, Sarah, Halima, Anya—are diverse women who represent many cultures and values. How does each affect Caddie’s actions and influence her decisions?

Memories of Marcus’s death haunt Caddie. Is she in any way respon­sible for his death, or is she struggling with her own guilt for surviv­ing the ambush? How does Marcus’s journal—and perhaps his death—help her to heal?

Sarah tells Caddie, “Two kinds of people find their way to this place. Those who leave, and those who stay.” Does Caddie’s decision surprise you? How do her personal and professional losses reshape her life?

This fictional account of violence in the Middle East parallels many real-life, contemporary scenarios, both at home and abroad (for ex­ample, the war in Iraq, September 11, Columbine High School, Kosovo, Sarajevo, and Sudan). What motivates the kind of coverage given to these events? Is the reporting informative or voyeuristic?

This book is dedicated to Kevin Carter, a photojournalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his disturbing photo of the famine in Sudan. In the picture, a gaunt Sudanese child crouches low to the ground while a vulture lurks nearby. Not long after winning the Pulitzer, Carter took his life. As a strict observer, journalists sometimes may have to let violence and brutality occur because if they become involved, they may change the outcome of the event or the public’s understanding of a situation. Are there situations when a journalist should become a participant or is it better to remain an observer?