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Occupied Joanne Strasser


Set amidst separation and political conflict, Occupied is a coming-of-age story about a troubled mother-daughter relationship.

Tamar, a fearless Academic living in Israel, chooses her career over her daughter. She sends Keren to the United States at the age of nine to live with a father and family she has never met, and disappears for the next several years without a word.

Although Keren is an exceptional child, whose musical gifts eventually lead her to study in Berlin and to mature into a talented violinist, she is plagued by her relationship with her mother. Tamar draws her in only to push her away again, and prevents Keren from ever coming to terms with the past.


  • 69788 words
  • About 279 pages
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1 comment on "Occupied"

caralin on March 7, 2017, 11:04 a.m. said:


I think the core of this story is really great, the extremely complicated mother-daughter relationship igniting Keren's violin career while plaguing her through her life was dealt with well. I didn't feel any connection to the character's until about halfway through the book, but once I did I really enjoyed them. However, I felt the dialogue was weak and often felt unnatural, so I think that's something to really work on.

I also enjoyed the alternation between past and present, it was interesting and made sense with the story you were trying to tell. I never had trouble telling what point of time it was in between past and present, but oftentimes within present chapters it felt like you would jump days/weeks without and warning and it was really jarring.

I don't know much about the Israel/Palestine conflict, and I imagine many reading this wouldn't either, so I think it's important that you had so much focus on the Occupation, and I enjoyed the tie-in between the title, the conflict, and her feelings. I never would have realized there was any connection to be made between this and the Holocaust without reading this, so I do think that was interesting, but I think the way you brought it in shifted focus and made the story a bit confusing. I think her being Jewish and living in Germany could have been enough, and having her grandmother talk about living in Germany during the time almost felt like too much, especially since the family is now so privileged.

This story is special, but I personally think it will need heavy-duty editing before being ready for publication.

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