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Wherever You Go by Joan Leegant
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Wherever You Go

by Joan Leegant

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9016195,955 (3.9)3

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I feel I need to begin this review by mentioning the fact that Wherever You Go is not a light read. Not in the least. I was mistakenly under the impression that this relatively short read would be something light and introspective. While the book definitely raises some amazing discussion points and questions, it is by no means an easy read. It took me a lot longer to read this than anything else I've read this month. Mainly because I'd find something I wanted to mull over and have to stop reading. That being said, I also need to state that my review is entirely based on my current state of mind. This book was something that I enjoyed reading, but I didn't fall completely in love with it. Mainly because my mindset right now is just not ready to deal with such deep reading.

Yona, Mark and Aaron are all at a point in their lives where they are looking for something more. After floating, trying to figure out where they belong, they end up back at their roots looking for answers. These three lives are different, but similar enough to tie together beautifully. The questions of faith and commitment are deeply ingrained in this book, along with both personal and external reflections. Although this book revolves around Jewish faith, there is a lot here that expands beyond that other religions. It is definitely a reflective read that will cause you to mull over the bigger picture.

What really hampered my enjoyment of this book though was the pivotal event that ties all of these people together. I won't spoil it, but it really felt rather convenient and forced to me. After that I felt like the characters were just rushed into the ending. All the growing, learning and introspection that they had accomplished just seemed to fade, as the ending loomed. It's not that I didn't understand why the book had this turn, I did. I just felt like the first half of the book was so much more fascinating and deep than the second half.

Unlike anything else I've read lately, this story was laden with insights about Israeli and American culture, as well as humanity as a whole. These characters are deep and well portrayed, but their lives seemed to never come to a nice closure for me. Overall I enjoyed Wherever You Go enough to finish it and keep thinking about it even after. I quite honestly would have loved it even more if the climax hadn't been so rushed.
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  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
I think I understand what the author was trying to accomplish with this novel and it's three stories, but it just didn't work for me. I had no patience for any of the main characters and found them to be rather unsympathetic . I was more interested in some of the secondary characters, perhaps because I was not in their heads so much. I did appreciate the insights into what it is like to live in Israel from differing Jewish viewpoints; dealing with bombings, traffic, and the never-ending political arguments. For whatever reasons I found it hard to stay interested in this book and just wanted to finish. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I’ve spent a good part of my day procrastinating on my review of this book for one reason, I simply don’t have the words to explain how much I loved it, but I’m going to do my best.

When I first read the description of Wherever You Go, it was instantly a book that I wanted to read. When I first sat down with it, my intention was to read the first few chapters to see how things are. In fact, I ended up not putting the book down for hours. Between the characters, the story, and Leegant’s way of writing I was simply glued to Wherever You Go.

It’s no secret that when I read a book I look for great characters. I must say that reading this book, I grew to care for each of the three main characters almost immediately. They were just so human with faults and worries and they were all looking for something. Yona, Mark, and Aaron could be any of the people we pass on the street any given day and that fact only made the book easier for me to read.

As for the story, and the lives of these three people who find what they need in a place they never really expected to end up… Well, that is just another one of the pieces of the story that makes the book unputdownable. Wherever You Go is realistic in a way I don’t always see in literature, and it was quite honestly, refreshing.

I also couldn’t end this without saying that the writing is absolutely beautiful. Even if the story or characters hadn’t grabbed me I would’ve kept on reading because Leegant’s writing was simply stunning. I highly recommend reading Wherever You Go, simply because it’s a great novel. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for other works from Joan Leegant.

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a part of TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  amongstories | Feb 21, 2013 |
Wherever You Go is an interesting story of people searching - for answers, for forgiveness, for a sense of belonging - but ultimately forgettable. None of the characters really stand out as strong leads, and their actions are collectively a bit predictable and forced. Something as messy as race relations in Israel should not tie up into such a tidy bow as this does. Readers will appreciate the chance to learn more about the Israeli culture and daily battles against the Palestinians but feel that Joan Leegant continues to sugarcoat the issues and make them palatable for American readers. The entire novel left me feeling disappointed at the possibilities left unfulfilled.
  jmchshannon | Dec 29, 2012 |
Three disconnected stories of Jewish Americans in Israel culminate with a tragic event. Each of the three main characters has family issues that, in one way or another, convince them to travel to Israel. Mark Greenglass, a former addict who turned his life around and because a Talmud teacher, Aaron Blinder, an academic failure and the son of a successful author and finally, Yona, a New Yorker who loses herself in meaningless relationships and denies her true passion: art.

Mark's family has a hard time accepting his new beliefs. Aaron has a hard time accepting his father's work and fame. Yona hurt her sister deeply ten years earlier and is now trying to reconcile with her. The three individuals are incredibly different and remain separate for the majority of the book. At times I felt like I didn't get to know them as well as I would have liked because it does bounce between the stories so quickly.

Leegant focuses on the role religion plays in a person's life. Should it justify any behavior? Should it come between personal relationships? What are the driving motivations behind our actions that we often attribute to faith? All of which are fascinating questions, though I don't think the books' goal is to answer any of them.

At times, the story reminded me of Nicole Krauss' Great House or Everything Beautiful Began After. Both books feature multiple characters who are, at first, unconnected and are brought together by a major event. The difference, for me, was the writing. Both of those books rely heavily on beautiful prose and that's what made me connect to them in the end.

So, overall, an interesting read and one that's perfect for anyone who's particularly interested in Israel or looking at the role religion plays in your life. I wish I could have connected more with the main characters, but I'm still glad I read it. ( )
  bookworm12 | Oct 30, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393339890, Paperback)

“Timely and brave. . . . Leegant is a masterful weaver.”—Miami Herald

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Yona Stern has travelled from New York to Israel to make amends with her estranged sister; former drug dealer Mark Greenglass was saved by an 11th-hour turn to Orthodox Judaism, but he has now lost his faith; desperate for approval, Aaron Blinder finds a home on the violent fringe of Israeli society. Originally published: 2010.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393054764, 0393339890

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