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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: Wherever You Go by Joan Leegant

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393339890
Pages:253 pages
Genre: Fiction  
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb

Summary from publisher:

Yona Stern has traveled from New York to Israel to make amends with her estranged sister, a stoic ideologue and mother of five who has dedicated herself to the radical West Bank settlement cause. Yona’s personal life resembles nothing of her sister’s, but it isn’t politics that drove the two apart.

Now a respected Jerusalem Talmud teacher, Mark Greenglass was once a drug dealer saved by an eleventh-hour turn to Orthodox Judaism. But for reasons he can’t understand, he’s lost his once fervent religious passion. Is he through with God? Is God through with him?

Enter Aaron Blinder, a year-abroad dropout with a history of failure whose famous father endlessly—some say obsessively—mines the Holocaust for his best-selling, melodramatic novels. Desperate for approval, Aaron finds a home on the violent fringe of Israeli society, with unforeseen and devastating consequences.

In a sweeping, beautifully written story, Joan Leegant, winner of the PEN New England Book Award and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, weaves together three lives caught in the grip of a volatile and demanding faith. Emotionally wrenching and unmistakably timely, Wherever You Go shines a light on one of the most disturbing elements in Israeli society: Jewish extremist groups and their threat to the modern, democratic state. This is a stunningly prescient novel.

My Review:     

Turns out the reading slump is still happening despite the bright spot from earlier this week. I am behind in my reviews and in my reading and I have a cold which just makes me miserable.

This book follows three people who travel to Israel for various reasons and end up finding themselves. I was completely engrossed in all of their stories. Usually I pick one or two characters that I focus on. With this one I was completely satisfied with all of them. Mark, Aaron and Yona were such interesting characters and their stories were compelling. All of their stories eventually intertwine in really interesting ways.

I did like this book quite a bit. I didn’t want to put it down once I started reading. To be honest, I don’t know why I loved this book so much. I don’t really identify with any of the characters and I can’t understand how the characters feel that they can find their happiness and salvation in a place. Places just don’t hold that much pull for me. But I can definitely identify with the need to find your happy place—especially in those places that remind you of your heritage and history. My family feels much the same about Bari, Italy.  I also thought that the writing was amazing. I don’t think I would have been as interested in this book in the hands of a lesser writer. It’s not normally my style but I am glad I gave it a try because it was really great.


*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.   My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies   made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the  blog.


  1. Dear Grace, Thanks so much for this terrific review. I am so glad you liked the book. Best wishes, Joan Leegant

  2. How funny that you mention Bari, Italy - that's where my mom's side of the family came from!

    I'm glad you enjoyed this one even if you can't quite explain what it was that you liked so much. Thanks for being on the tour!



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