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Book Review: "Places We Left Behind"

by Jennifer Lang



While reading Jennifer Lang’s exquisite memoir, PLACES WE LEFT BEHIND, I thought of broken mirror shards that exactly, yet only partially, reflect an image, yet do so from all angles. And so, too, the author presents brilliant glimpses from many perspectives, that when put together, make a whole.


The author’s intent initially pours forth with simplicity. She’s a young American Jew who moves to Israel and falls in love with a sexy French Jew. He wants to remain in Israel, she wants to live in the US, at least for a time. From there the author and her new husband begin a globe-moving life that’s based on the push and pull of who they are, what they want — or think they want — and the deals they make to appease one another, all while having three kids and pursuing their passions.


All of this is told through flash essays that combine text with graphics, poetry, checklists, strikethroughs and footnotes. Rather than fall prey to gimmick, however, the unusual formats are integral for portraying the surrealistic feeling of relocating to a foreign country, returning to a native land and negotiating the sometimes tumultuous waters of two people who love one another deeply, yet are pulled toward different places.


Literary, elucidating and utterly lovely, the author leads us to a glimmering moment of enlightenment in which she realizes if she’s true to herself, where she lives is no longer what’s most important.


NOTE: You can also find the above review on Goodreads. Jennifer's book is due out Sept. 5.


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For updates about Martha’s forthcoming books, news and giveaways, subscribe to her website: MarthaEngber.com.


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