I've been submerged in the life of this settlement, I've been filled in on the details of the inhabitants' lives, their beliefs, how they got to where they are. They are here for different reasons, but they feel entitled to the land. I've been helped to see their point of view, and even to feel some sympathetic pangs of outrage when Gavriel's cabin is destroyed.
The writing style is straightforward, occasionally poetic (especially at the beginning of each chapter, predictably), but almost journalistic for most of the novel. This helps tell the story and switch characters seamlessly, and also explain some of the Jewish terms that pepper the text. But it also keeps me from really getting too close to any of these characters. Perhaps it is because I came in mostly disagreeing with their way of life, but I think the detached narration helped keep me at a distance. There may be all kinds of reasons for this, ranging from culture to the author being a man and a journalist, but I the distancing style was consistent.
That said, I do feel like I learned a lot about the settlement lifestyle and about how settlements continue to survive despite illegality. Life is crazy everywhere. But I got a sense of how it is crazy in this particular corner of Israel, and I'm thankful for that.