book review: Wherever You Go by Joan Leegant

Wherever You Go: A NovelThe 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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  1. Nice review of this one, Carrie - I too enjoyed Leegant's novel and thought her writing beautiful.

  2. I am going to be reading this one soon, and am rather intrigued by what I have been hearing. I love great writing, so this book sounds very appealing to me. Beautiful and honest review. It was much appreciated.

  3. I have to agree with you, I thought Leegant's writing was beautiful. Mark's story was the least interesting to me -- I preferred Yona's -- but I got caught up in the entire book pretty easily.

  4. It's always funny to me when the story or characters are secondary in enjoyment to the writing. Like you said that can be a good or bad thing!

  5. I'm in the midst of reading this book now and am completely taken with it. I love the prose and the characters are intriguing, I don't like them all but thay certainly interest me! I'm finding the different views on religion fascinating as well but I'm not very far into the book yet.

  6. I'm the same way when it comes to books with multiple narrators/storylines - I always am sad when I leave the character I like, especially if the one I'm transitioning to doesn't measure up. You've made me curious about this book!

  7. I'm glad that your issues with the varying narration didn't cause you to dislike the book as a whole - it sounds like a fascinating read!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  8. I'm happy to read such a positive review. I have this one coming up in my reading lineup and it sounds like a book I'll definitely enjoy.


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