Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Wherever You Go by Joan Leegant
Leegant weaves these three very separate lives together throughout the course of the novel and builds up to a dramatic finale. I found the most interesting character to be Dena, Yona's sister, who had completely devoted her life to one interpretation of her faith and for most of the book was unable to see anything else, including the person she had once been. I am non-religious so it was fascinating to be given a glimpse of life so led by religion and the different reasons people turn to religion.
For me, the best thing about this novel was how Leegant managed to portray such a broad spectrum of opinion about religion and politics in Israel, and by doing so demonstrated how complex the country is. I'm not Jewish or Israeli or even American and perhaps have been guilty of oversimplifying Israel and the Middle East in general, thinking things such as "Israelis think that...." or "Israelis are..." and Leegant's book reminded how just how complicated the situation is.
Leegant's book would be a great pick for a book group because it gave me so much to think about and so many questions to ask myself - At what point does religion become fundamentalist? Why do people turn to religion in bad times rather than good? Can people with opposing ideologies ever live together in peace? Can you ever redeem yourself from certain acts? What issues or causes would you devote your life to?
But I don't want you all to think this was just a stuffy, 'issues' book as it was also a story that was enjoyable to read with characters I came to care about. I would recommend it.
Source: From the author, in exchange for an honest review. Wherever You Go is already available in America and is released in the UK on September 17th.
Score: 4.5 out of 5
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