The basics: Wherever You Go follows three Americans in Jerusalem. Yona is there to make amends with her estranged sister, Mark is an scholar, and Aaron is a wandering college dropout.
My thoughts: Joan Leegant's prose is exquisite. As a reader equally drawn to writing and characters, I found myself drawn more to the writing in Wherever You Go. It is both a compliment and burden that I found myself thinking about her beautiful sentence construction more than I did about the novel's events.
The novel began with Yona's story, and I was quite drawn to her. I was struck by Yona's ability to be both guarded and open. She was mysterious, intriguing and honest all at the same time. When the narrative first shifted to Mark, I was initially less intrigued. As is so often the case, I want to stay with characters I enjoy. When the narrative shifted to Aaron, I found myself following the writing and construction of the story more than the story itself. I'm not sure why my focus shifted, but it did impact my view of the novel. As a reader reading from above, I found myself thinking of how and why Leegant made decisions rather than being along for the journey with the characters.
The verdict: Leegant has crafted a beautiful novel rich with observation and wisdom. Some parts of the story shined more brightly for me, but her writing alone makes this one worth reading. I'm eager to see what Leegant writes next.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Length: 253 pages
Publication date: July 25, 2011 (paperback original)
Source: publisher, via TLC Book Tours
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