Miriam Gil knows little about Israel. Her father won’t talk about his life there or the brother he left behind when he came to Canada. Hurt and angry when he tells her to move out to make room for his new girlfriend, she enrolls in an Israeli university. She falls in love with Guy, a former combat soldier who dreams of peace. Miriam is caught off guard when her visa and passport application are rejected on the grounds that she’s suspected of being a Syrian Christian. In rapid order, the university boots her out, her one friend is killed in a brawl, and Miriam is accused of murder by Israeli police. Despite troubling revelations about her father’s past, Miriam must reconcile with him if she is to prove her innocence, reclaim her life, and hang on to her newfound love.
Book Club Discussion Questions for Passport Control
1. Why do you think the title of this book is Passport Control? Would you have chosen a different title? One publisher suggested the title of No Way Home. Do you think that title is preferable?
2. Would you say Passport Control is historical fiction? A coming of age story? An adventure story? Other? How would you categorize this work?
3. In the book there is a lot of discussion of identity. What roles our identities play in our lives, multiple identities, weak and strong identities. Did you empathize with much of the discussion? What role does your identity play in your life and which ones (religious, national,ethnic, other)?
4. Do you think Miriam's father understood why his daughter went to Israel? Have you ever been in this situation as a parent or with your own parent?
5. Miriam is reluctant to sign the letter her roommate wants her to sign? Why? Do you think she made the right decision in the end? What would you have done in her place?
6. Miriam is accused of murdering her close friend. Have you ever been accused of something you didn't do? What were the ramifications? Do you think Miriam paid a price for this accusation?
7. What role does Guy play in the novel? Is he a typical boyfriend? Do you believe Miriam is sincere in her feelings for him?
8. What would you like to see happen to Miriam in the future? Do you think she should leave her father again and return to Israel or convince her father to come with her?
9. Do you think Miriam's uncle is an ethical character? Why or why not? Did he do the right thing going behind his wife's back to help his niece?
10. What did you learn about the various peoples in Israel from this novel? Anything you did not know before? Did it make you want to visit Israel or another Middle Eastern country?
My back straightens at the word pig. I am used to French Canadians complaining against discrimination in the workplace, in the government, in the media, but somehow Farzeen disarms me with her accusations against a state I’d lived in only for two hours in a taxi, except, of course, I have that vein that connects me with my Jerusalem-born, Arabic speaking father, but I’m cutting him out of my life. Still, as jet lagged and disoriented as I am, that vein begins to pulse. "I really don’t know much about it. I mean, that’s why I came here to study it, isn’t it?"