A coming-of-age/spy novel.
It’s 1980. Charlie Stern is a cynical 16-year-old whose father packed him off to boarding school when Charlie’s mother died four years ago.
When his best friend Wardo commits suicide, Charlie is sent to Israel, where his father is doing some boring job out of a hotel. The only thing Charlie cares about is Wardo’s guitar and when he loses it, he’s determined to get it back. But Tel Aviv is a war zone. Terrorists plant bombs on buses and soldiers patrol the streets with Uzis. He needs help, but he can’t find anybody he can rely on. The only other kid his age in the hotel disappears whenever Charlie needs him, the lifeguard is running a poolside black market operation, and the front desk clerk might be a terrorist. Even his father’s boring job turns out to be a cover for a covert CIA operation.
Naïve and arrogant, Charlie stumbles into increasingly dangerous situations, ultimately carrying a bomb unwittingly into the hotel. When the blast almost kills him, he’s forced to confront the extent of his own responsibility, not just for the bomb, but for his messed-up relationship with his father and even Wardo’s suicide.