1. The essence of this book is in its title. Distance exists in the
political landscape of this novel as well as in Caddie's life. 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?
2. 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?
3. After Marcus's death, Caddie finds herself drawn closer and closer
to dangerous situations, putting herself at increasingly greater
personal and professional risk, as if she were invincible. What drives
this reckless behavior? What other professions encourage similar forms
of escape? Does escaping become addictive?
4. What is behind Caddie's strong attraction to Goronsky? From the
beginning, he is not honest with her yet she continues to rely on him.
5. Lingering thoughts of revenge plague Caddie. Did you expect this?
How do her experiences with Goronsky, Avraham, Halima, and others affect
6. 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?
7. 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?
8. Sarah tells Caddie, "Two kinds of people find their way to this
place. Those who leave, and those who stay." Does Caddie's decision to
stay surprise you? Will her personal and professional losses reshape her
9. 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, merely feeding the
general public's appetite for violence?
10. 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?
Hamilton worked as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press for five
years in the Middle East, where she covered the intefadeh, the peace process
and the partial Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. (See more by clicking
on the Masha Hamilton Bio button)