I really enjoyed reading Wherever You Go by Joan Leegant. When Joan emailed me to ask if I would like a review copy I nearly said no thank you, because I have so many books to read and I couldn’t say when I’d get round to reading it. I’m glad I didn’t because when it arrived I soon found myself reading it and then I couldn’t stop. It’s a dramatic (but not melodramatic) and thought provoking book.
It’s about three people, and the narrative moves between them beginning with Yona Stern, an American visiting her sister Dena, a settler living in the territories near Hebron on the West Bank. Yona has come to make peace with Dena, after being estranged for ten years. It then moves on to Mark Greenglass, a Talmud teacher in Jerusalem, now visiting his parents in New York, before returning to Jerusalem. He’s come to a crisis point in his life where he is questioning his faith, his life and his career. The third person is Aaron Blinder, a young American and a somewhat pathetic individual who gets involved in an unofficial commune just outside Jerusalem. Events gradually connect the three, changing all three lives.
Wherever You Go is convincing, with a strong sense of location, believable characters and a fast-paced plot. I’m neither Jewish or American but I thought this was an interesting view of life in Israel, and of the relationship between Israel and America and of Jewish Americans living in both countries. It also conveys the conflicts and tensions of Israeli life, emphasising the dangers of religious and political extremism. But it’s not just a commentary on the political and religious issues, as it explores each of the characters’ personal issues – seeking forgiveness, looking for the truth in religious beliefs, and reconciling family relationships. All in all, a well-rounded novel, which captivated me.
- Paperback: 253 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.; Reprint edition (9 Sep 2011)
- Language English
- ISBN-10: 0393339890
- ISBN-13: 978-0393339895
- Source: review copy from the author
- My rating 4.5/5