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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Will There Be Watermelons on Mars? is a short story written by Debbie Manber Kupfer. Susie wakes with a hangover beside her very noisy cat, Cici. Earth was supposed to come to an end but it hadn’t. It takes a while for it to sink in that Earth is still real, as is the multitude of empty vodka bottles staring back at her. Susie’s friend, Sasha - still passed out from over-indulgence – was talking in his sleep. Susie opens the fridge, hoping to alleviate her hunger when a watermelon rolls out and lands on her foot. The fridge is full of them. After feeding Cici, Susie collects the empty vodka bottles and takes them to the market to exchange for some stale bread so that she and Sasha could eat. They venture to the next town, only to be offered some watermelon by Na’ima, who’d stood outside her home, tired of listening to the television. Every news story on Al Jazeera was of Arabs blaming Jews, followed by Jews blaming Arabs. There was no peace left anywhere on Earth. Estranged from their families, Na’ima and Reuven were soon to make the biggest decision of their lives. The shuttle to Mars is their only hope for a new life, pioneering a new civilization which the chosen are determined will not mimic that which exists on Earth.
I was excited to review this book as soon as I saw Debbie Manber Kupfer’s name, as Debbie had impressed me earlier with the P.A.W.S. novella. I was not disappointed. In true Debbie Manber Kupfer style, Will There Be Watermelons On Mars was as baffling as it was frighteningly realistic. With so many doomsday alerts having been issued over the years, it was interesting to see the possible result of one which people worldwide would truly fear. Examining the cultural differences in people’s reactions was equally extraordinary. My heart wept for Na’ima and the sorrow she felt when her child’s death was celebrated, and I fully understood her choice to volunteer for the Mars project in order to escape the everyday prejudices around her. Will There Be Watermelons on Mars? is one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read, evoking every emotion imaginable. I recommend this book to adults who enjoy dramatic and puzzling, yet mildly humorous, tales which will stretch the imagination to a whole new level.