Nights at the hospital are hard for Dr Eitan Green. After one which was exceptionally exhausting, he does not drive home immediately but decides on speeding with his SUV. Suddenly, a man appears in front of him. He cannot stop anymore and runs him over. As a medical doctor he can assess the situation instantaneously: there is nothing to be done for this man. Should he call the police? Why? Just another illegal immigrant. And since he is dead anyway, nothing can be done to reverse it. Whom would it serve if he went to prison? Eitan gets back into his car and hurries away. His bad conscience follows him, but only a couple of days later does he realise how deep he is in trouble: he apparently lost his wallet next to the dead man and now a woman wants revenge. However, Sirkit does not expect money from him, she wants his expertise and forces him to help the illegal community who does not have access to medical treatment. Eitan cannot refuse and thus a double life begins which, obviously, cannot last forever, especially with a suspicious and clever wife at home.
The author has picked a very tricky conflict which does not leave the reader unmoved: first of all, how to react if you did something wrong, if you are fully aware of your crime but if you have the chance to escape without being noticed? It is tempting of course. The fact that the victim is an illegal immigrant, helpless on the one hand, living on the legal residents on the other, does not make things easier. This this specific case, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen intensifies the conflict in choosing a medical doctor as protagonist: bound by his oath the help the people, he now is responsible for somebody’s death.
What was most interesting to observe in the course of the action was the development of the relationship between Eitan and Sirkit. At the beginning, she has the upper hand, she can threaten him with her knowledge about his crime and he is bound to obey. However, in working together in the secret hospital, they get closer to each other and even some tension and attraction between them arises. Even though Eitan loves his wife, there is something fascinating about this woman who is definitely a most interesting character. Not only because of her strong backbone and command over people, but also because slowly, she is not anymore just black (or white), but develops into a very complex individual defined by the circumstances of her life, incorporating many contradictions created by the conditions and events she had to face. Both of them, Eitan and Sirkit, can represent the fact that a human being can be good and bad at the same time, devoted and egoistic, guilty and innocent.
Not to be forgotten is Liat, Eitan’s wife. She has a special gift, her ability to read people, to see through them and thus provoke a confession – quite helpful for a detective. However, it does not help her with her husband who can hide his second life for quite some time. She is suspicious, but wants to trust him. She is fighting for the truth every day, but in this particular story, there might me several truths and one of them she has to believe in.
Waking Lions is a stunning novel with much food for thought. It does not leave you unshaken if you are willing to engage in the action. It shows quite plainly that our human actions are multifaceted and complex and everything but easy to explain and understand.