Wherever You Go

Wherever You Go

3.3 9
by Joan Leegant
     
 

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A debut novel by a writer who has been praised for bringing “matter and spirit together . . . with unsuspected, unquantifiable meaning.”—New York Times Book Review

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

Overview

A debut novel by a writer who has been praised for bringing “matter and spirit together . . . with unsuspected, unquantifiable meaning.”—New York Times Book Review

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Leegant's debut novel, after her story collection, An Hour in Paradise, follows three Americans who long for definitive answers from their Jewish faith. Yona Stern returns to Jerusalem in an attempt to reconcile with her sister, Dena, from whom she's been estranged for 10 years after sleeping with Dena's husband. Dena has since married a man committed to the uncompromising Jewish settlements. Mark Greenglass, a scholar who has replaced his drug addiction with a religious addiction, leaves Jerusalem to return to New York for a teaching gig and to reconnect with his parents and the woman he loved but couldn't save from a dissipated life. And Aaron Blinder, a college dropout resentful of his father's success writing bestselling novels about the Holocaust, searches for a group to join in Israel to give his life meaning. While each individual tale has its urgency and pathos, the story becomes gripping only in the latter part of the book when the three paths collide in a frightening incident caused by an impetuous, irresponsible act by Aaron. Unfortunately, that is the shortest section, making the whole feel unbalanced, but Leegant's strong, sensory writing compensates. (July)
Jonathan Wilson
“[R]emarkable and affecting novel, at once lucid and lyrical..... Not since the warring Zuckerman brothers in Philip Roth's The Counterlife have the exigencies of settler politics and secular desires been so cogently addressed in a work of fiction. Who says the novel has lost its relevance? This one should be required reading.”
Booklist
“Leegant’s compelling debut novel weaves together the lives of three characters searching for personal and religious reconciliation in volatile settings.”
The Forward
“Finally, a novel about Israel by an American Jew that’s written well and without sentimentality... There have been many important novels in English about Israel; Leegant’s is certainly among them.”
Miami Herald
“Pitch-perfect renderings of individuals torn between earthly and heavenly Jerusalems...Wherever You Go is a lively, full novel by an elegant, ironic writer who handles the topics of terror and messianic violence as agilely as she does love and redemption.”
Moment Magazine
“Leegant is a talented writer with a sharp eye for detail, a good ear for dialogue (and interior monologue), and a knack for drawing characters that engage our interest and empathy…. She succeeds at building suspense with a variety of literary strategies and executes a clever twist in the plot’s denouement to prolong the tension until almost the very end.”
Chicago Jewish Star
“A finely wrought story that raises issues while it keeps a reader turning the pages.”
Cleveland Jewish News
“Written with skill, shrewd observation and honesty, Wherever You Go explores some of the most intractable issues facing Israel and, by extension, American Jewry today.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393054767
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
07/12/2010
Pages:
253
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Joan Leegant, author of An Hour in Paradise and Wherever You Go, won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for the best book of Jewish-American fiction and the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

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Wherever You Go 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Marcupl More than 1 year ago
The best review I read of Wherever You Go was from the Association of Jewish Libraries, "A small masterpiece, small only in that Leegant needs few pages to say a lot. Her book is eloquent, timely, and thought provoking." That says it all about this great read.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
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 settler 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 drop-out 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 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: The story was well written to include the lives of the three characters in the book, Yona Stern, Mark Greenglass and Aaron Blinder. They are united in a unique way, their love for Israel and the importance of being a Jew. For Yona Stern, she struggles with rebuilding the relationship with her sister Dena for the last 12 years while rebuilding the issue of trust that has dissolved between them. Yona cheated on her sister with her boyfriend at the time, who confessed he didn't really love Dena for the last year and instead has fallen for her. Riddled with guilt, he ultimately confesses to Dena and ends the relationship thinking that they will now fall in love. The only problem is that Yona doesn't love him and never did. Now she finds herself trying to finally reconcile the gap that has come between them in her section of the book and it seems that Dena only wishes to punish her sister through her actions while she allows her to visit by barely speaking to her, and for the most part staying so busy they don't have time to be alone. Mark Greenglass has spent his year attempting to find out who he really is, under the watchful eyes of his father, who has more money then he will ever be able to spend in his lifetime. He doesn't believe that Mark will ever amount to anything and he spends time in and out of different college classes trying to find his faith again as a Jewish man. Aaron Builder is a unique individual who is trying to make sure that the Jewish people are not forced out of Israel by their Arab neighbors. He will join whatever cause is necessary to make sure that the rising hostilities against Israel will not eliminate the country he has come to love. I received this book compliments of TLC Book Tours for my honest review. This is probably one of the first books that I've had the opportunity to read that involves three different stories all in one but doesn't lose the reader along the way. There within the pages of this novel we find out just how far these individuals are willing to go to in the name of their cause? I rate this book a 4 out of 5 stars!
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Irish_Traveller More than 1 year ago
Ms. Leegant creates characters that are intriguing and their situations keep us reading and thinking about how they will act out their individual lives. One can't help but see the entire Israeli-Palestine conflict mirrored in the book - she does not take sides but merely reveals the humanity - flawed and flawless - in these people While there are threads of different stories, at the end there is one story. This is a good read - couldn't put it down
John76JS More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down.This is a novel that makes you think, while at the same time being a terrific read. Great characters, great story, totally engrossing.
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