Wherever You Go

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wherever You Go
by Joan Leegant

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.

I received a review copy of this book from the author and I read it as part of the Read-Along hosted by Books and Movies and she reads and reads.

Here's Part One of the discussion.


Carrie K. said...

Thanks so much for joining us on the read-along! I'm not sure why the second discussion post hasn't gone up - I haven't been able to reach Avis. Maybe she's got the icky cold/flu thing that seems to be going around various parts of the country! Do you have any questions that you want me to include in my interview of Joan?

avisannschild said...

I'm glad you joined us for the read-along! Sorry I was late in posting the second discussion post -- life (and snow) got in the way -- but it's up now. I'd love to hear your further thoughts on this book. It's so relatively short that I agree, it was sometimes difficult to connect to the characters, or at least I wanted to know more about them. But I thought the ending was beautiful.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

avisannschild - Life often gets in the way of blogging. I agree, I did like the ending, but I also wanted to know more about the characters.

LindyLouMac said...

Hi Melissa, back from my travels and trying to catch up with all my favourite bloggers. I like learning about different cultures, so this is definitely going on my wishlist thanks for the tempting review.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

LindyLouMac - It's so hard to play catch up when you get back from vacation. I finally feel like I'm mostly caught up and it's been 3 weeks since I got back.