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“People of the Book: Mini Review

Stephanie Hadley

“People of the Book” follows Dr. Hanna Heath, a book conservator who has been assigned with restoring the newly rediscovered Sarajevo Haggadah — a rare illuminated manuscript which proves that Jewish people included art in their religious books despite specific scripture prohibiting it — after it had been seemingly lost to time in war-torn Bosnia. The project proves to be harder than Hanna’s usual jobs; hidden in the pages are unexplainable mysteries that take Hanna across the globe as she researches them.

Four artifacts — a white hair, an insect wing, salt crystals and a wine stain — are explained as the author pulls us into the stories of the people who accidentally left their marks on the book; their histories also reveal the religion-driven and often violent events that stain the people who played a role in the book’s creation.

Wedged in between the tales of the book is Hanna’s own story as she grapples with a harsh mother, tortured lover and unexpected new family. Despite her own tumultuous relationships, the mysteries of the Haggadah occupy her mind as she travels to London, Sarajevo, Paris and Boston to talk to experts about the unknowns of the book. In the process, she discovers as much about herself as she does about the Haggadah, transforming her from an reserved workaholic into a fervent artist.

“People of the Book” brings you through history and into the intense stories of the ordinary people who touched the famed Sarajevo Haggadah; as you read, you’ll become just as passionate about uncovering the truth behind each perplexing artifact.

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About the Contributor
Molly Hamalainen, Journalist
Molly Hamalainen is a senior at Community High School, going into her third semester on The Midnight Sun. Documentation is a passion of Molly’s, and she loves to document CHS and beyond. Their three favorite m’s are music, matcha, and maxi skirts, which coincidentally keep them going while writing. Find her if you want to discuss fashion or feminism, but never alliteration.

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