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The Art of Leaving

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An unforgettable memoir about a young woman who tries to outrun loss, but eventually finds a way home. Ayelet Tsabari was 21 years old the first time she left Tel Aviv with no plans to return. Restless after two turbulent mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces, Tsabari longed to get away. It was not the never-ending conflict that drove her, but the grief that had shak An unforgettable memoir about a young woman who tries to outrun loss, but eventually finds a way home. Ayelet Tsabari was 21 years old the first time she left Tel Aviv with no plans to return. Restless after two turbulent mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces, Tsabari longed to get away. It was not the never-ending conflict that drove her, but the grief that had shaken the foundations of her home. The loss of Tsabari’s beloved father in years past had left her alienated and exiled within her own large Yemeni family and at odds with her Mizrahi identity. By leaving, she would be free to reinvent herself and to rewrite her own story. For nearly a decade, Tsabari travelled, through India, Europe, the US and Canada, as though her life might go stagnant without perpetual motion. She moved fast and often because—as in the Intifada—it was safer to keep going than to stand still. Soon the act of leaving—jobs, friends and relationships—came to feel most like home. But a series of dramatic events forced Tsabari to examine her choices and her feelings of longing and displacement. By periodically returning to Israel, Tsabari began to examine her Jewish-Yemeni background and the Mizrahi identity she had once rejected, as well as unearthing a family history that had been untold for years. What she found resonated deeply with her own immigrant experience and struggles with new motherhood. Beautifully written, frank and poignant, The Art of Leaving is a courageous coming-of-age story that reflects on identity and belonging and that explores themes of family and home—both inherited and chosen.


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An unforgettable memoir about a young woman who tries to outrun loss, but eventually finds a way home. Ayelet Tsabari was 21 years old the first time she left Tel Aviv with no plans to return. Restless after two turbulent mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces, Tsabari longed to get away. It was not the never-ending conflict that drove her, but the grief that had shak An unforgettable memoir about a young woman who tries to outrun loss, but eventually finds a way home. Ayelet Tsabari was 21 years old the first time she left Tel Aviv with no plans to return. Restless after two turbulent mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces, Tsabari longed to get away. It was not the never-ending conflict that drove her, but the grief that had shaken the foundations of her home. The loss of Tsabari’s beloved father in years past had left her alienated and exiled within her own large Yemeni family and at odds with her Mizrahi identity. By leaving, she would be free to reinvent herself and to rewrite her own story. For nearly a decade, Tsabari travelled, through India, Europe, the US and Canada, as though her life might go stagnant without perpetual motion. She moved fast and often because—as in the Intifada—it was safer to keep going than to stand still. Soon the act of leaving—jobs, friends and relationships—came to feel most like home. But a series of dramatic events forced Tsabari to examine her choices and her feelings of longing and displacement. By periodically returning to Israel, Tsabari began to examine her Jewish-Yemeni background and the Mizrahi identity she had once rejected, as well as unearthing a family history that had been untold for years. What she found resonated deeply with her own immigrant experience and struggles with new motherhood. Beautifully written, frank and poignant, The Art of Leaving is a courageous coming-of-age story that reflects on identity and belonging and that explores themes of family and home—both inherited and chosen.

30 review for The Art of Leaving

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I fell head over heals the first time I read “The Best Place on Earth”, by Ayelet Tsabari. The collection of short stories each stands alone - but the themes blend together — life in Israel, ( society, culture, night life, customs, the military, the threat of living with violence, identity, relationships between lovers, family, and friends), Israelis who migrated to Canada, with a focus on Mizrahi and Yemeni Jews. Each story so personal - the characters come alive. The stories are really captiva I fell head over heals the first time I read “The Best Place on Earth”, by Ayelet Tsabari. The collection of short stories each stands alone - but the themes blend together — life in Israel, ( society, culture, night life, customs, the military, the threat of living with violence, identity, relationships between lovers, family, and friends), Israelis who migrated to Canada, with a focus on Mizrahi and Yemeni Jews. Each story so personal - the characters come alive. The stories are really captivating- personal - relatable - and totally enjoyable. Many months later, our local book club loved these stories, too. “The Art of Leaving”, - essays - is Ayelet’s memoir. Her essays blend together in the same way her short stories did in “The Best Place on Earth”. Themes center around growing up: childhood. adolescence, and young adult. Her book is divided into three sections: HOME, LEAVING, & RETURN. Within these sections - are individual stories representing stages & ages of Ayelet’s life. This was ‘tons’ more enjoyable than I was expecting. I saw this book on Netgalley - early- but didn’t jump to read it. Many thanks to Esil ( her review is wonderful), for being my ‘jump-to-it ‘ inspiration. I had justified my ‘waiting’.....( maybe our Jewish book club will read it later?/! Point is I had forgotten how incredibly personal - raw - touching - and sparklingly enjoyable it is to read Ayelet’s prose. Moving - funny at times - soulful - tender - unique personal colorful stories. I related - closely with Ayelet. Ayelet lost her father to death at age 10. I was 4 when my dad died. But those questions that remained with Ayelet her entire life growing up without a father - are the same questions - I’ve lived with too. Ayelet’s father died during the night when she was sleeping - (same for me). I related to this except .....(she wrote words that fit exactly what I went through, too) “I will sleep an entire night ignorant of that loss, and the next morning, I will wake up still knowing, un-orphaned ( and for the first few weeks after his death, every morning will begin with the same blissful amnesia before I am hijacked by remembering”). After the horrible news ..... Ayelet says: “That moment, crystallized in my memory through the fog of grief, will be the fork in the road where my future splits in two: what could have happened had he lived and what happened because he didn’t. And as they grow up, I will try to live as wildly and loudly as I can to outdo the enormity of this moment, to diminish it”. WOW! Thank you Ayelet Tsabari!!! Ayelet’s personal journey continued to sneak up on me and by the time I got to the end -( she lives her life with gusto), I was wishing to know her more.....as in hang out! I’ll never hesitate again about reading Ayelet’s books. This woman can write!!! Thank you Random House, Netgalley, and Ayelet Tsabari P.S. I share the say May 24th birthday with Ayelet 🎂

  2. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    3.8 stars for the land of cool metaphors This memoir is by an Israeli who lived in several countries and tells of her emotional journal. The book is very smart. It didn’t knock my socks off, like the author’s collection of short stories, The Best Place on Earth, did. Ah, but never mind-- there’s a full Joy Jar, lots of shout-outs. Yes, of course there are some complaints, but the joys outnumbered them. Joy Jar -Metaphors galore. And I mean good ones. The author gets an A-plus in this department—ju 3.8 stars for the land of cool metaphors This memoir is by an Israeli who lived in several countries and tells of her emotional journal. The book is very smart. It didn’t knock my socks off, like the author’s collection of short stories, The Best Place on Earth, did. Ah, but never mind-- there’s a full Joy Jar, lots of shout-outs. Yes, of course there are some complaints, but the joys outnumbered them. Joy Jar -Metaphors galore. And I mean good ones. The author gets an A-plus in this department—just wow. She seems to do it with an economy of words, no fluff, and the images form instantly, sharp in your mind. There’s atmosphere out the ying-yang. Get a load of these sentences: “It’s April and cool for the season, the breeze a thin, silky scarf. The sky is the color of white linen that was accidentally laundered with a blue sock.” “The sky is mucky and grey, an ashtray left on a rainy porch.” “Lights burn yellow holes in the dark buildings.” -She’s a total bad ass. I don’t know why, but when a person come across as a very serious writer, you aren’t expecting a wild child who smokes cigarettes and has carried an Uzi (she did mandatory military service). You just don’t. There are many wild stories, but no need for me to ruin the surprise. I just loved the bad-ass parts, and they reminded me of her fantastic short story collection. -Loved the introspection. There is a lot of interior emotions and self-examination, which I adore. I liked her struggle to become a writer. The drive to write was always a part of her, sometimes buried deep, and getting there took a while. -Loved her adventures and chronicle of her relationships. She makes everything juicy but in a quiet way. She had one traumatic thing happen to her, which was harrowing. -Loved to visit different continents. The author went back and forth between Israel and Canada many times, trying to find home. She also did a long stint in India. Her life in the different countries was fascinating. A great sentence about how you feel on landing in a foreign country: “Everything was coated with the surreal haze that followed extended air travel, tinged with strangeness and fatigue, the inconceivability of being here, now.” -A woman in search of a home. She was constantly trying to figure out why she liked to leave instead of stay, and she had interesting ideas about the concept of home. “As a roving twenty-something, I enjoyed toying with the idea of home as if it was a fluid negotiable term, a mental RV, a headspace.” -I’m a complete wuss; please don’t sting me! I’m not going to lie--I was unchy and afraid when I saw there was an entire chapter about hornets. Can I help it that I have a bee phobia? I blame my mother, who went running around the yard screaming every time she saw one. Anyway, I loved this chapter even though I was biting my nails half the time and looking out furtively for hornets. -Liked learning about Jews from Yemen who live in Israel. Fascinating culture, and the author chronicles it well. Jews from Yemen are treated as inferior by other Jews in Israel, and this prejudice affects her deeply. Complaint Board -How am I supposed to give a hoot? I appreciate (and usually tear up) when I hear tributes for people I’ve known and loved, and famous people I’ve liked. The author spends a lot of time talking about her dad and his greatness. He seriously sounds like a cool man, but her praise goes on and on and is monotonous and meaningless to me since I didn’t know him. Way too much on daddy-poo. Sorry. (I know, I know, I sound callous, but can I help it that I’ve ingested some truth serum?) -Just too much about family traditions and history. I know I said I liked the culture part, but there was too much talk of her heritage and traditions. It became a snooze, especially compared to her relationships and adventures, which showed a brazen, rebellious, and overall wild chick. There were also too many relatives to keep track of. The last chapters were especially heritage-centric. -Give me more adventure. The metaphors were truly great, but they require work. Drama and dialogue are my thing. -Can we stay out of the kitchen? Pretty please… I don’t cook, so describing how the author’s mother makes food doesn’t turn me on. Nor does a wholesome hang-out session in the kitchen. There’s a whole (what felt like a long) chapter on recipes! Many details of ingredients. (And way too much cilantro!) A mom who is Betty Crocker even though she’s an exotic one, bores me to tears and makes me want to go out back and chug some beer—and I don’t even drink beer. I did find myself not totally hating the chapter, only because Tsabari is such a skilled writer she can get away with it—a little. Here’s a great sentence about her cooker mom: “She disappeared into the kitchen, became one with the appliances. Food replaced her words; cooking became her currency.” The author probably could write about a phone book and I’d be happy. Still, I’m in a snit about the whole recipe thing. It was supposed to be very yum yum but instead it was a big ho hum. -Motherhood, oh dear. I wasn’t impressed with her thoughts about motherhood, which has nothing to do with the merit of the book. It’s just that sometimes we like to relate. I’m going to stay mum re mum-land in case you want to read this book. And to sum up… I would have liked the whole book to be just about her adventures, relationships, and self-analysis, which reminded me of her rich short stories. But her language and metaphors are just brilliant, so even the boring parts weren’t bad. I’m in awe that the author can write so beautifully in English, since Hebrew is her native language. (Funny, my last book was set in Israel too—an excellent novel called Holy Lands.) I look forward to Tsabari’s next book of short stories or other fiction. Final word: Not enough people know about this great writer. Check her out! Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    4+ stars I read and really liked Ayelet Tsabari’s book of short stories, The Best Place on Earth. Her memoir, The Art of Leaving, is almost a companion to her book of short stories – she covers many of the same places and I recognize the sensibilities and experiences of her main characters. Although she is only in her 40s, Tsabari has had an interesting life and her writing is expressive and engaging. Tsabari was born in Israel to parents of Yemeni origin. Her father died when she was 10 years ol 4+ stars I read and really liked Ayelet Tsabari’s book of short stories, The Best Place on Earth. Her memoir, The Art of Leaving, is almost a companion to her book of short stories – she covers many of the same places and I recognize the sensibilities and experiences of her main characters. Although she is only in her 40s, Tsabari has had an interesting life and her writing is expressive and engaging. Tsabari was born in Israel to parents of Yemeni origin. Her father died when she was 10 years old. Her grandmother had been abandoned by her own mother when she was 2 years old. Until recently, Tsabari has led an unconventional life, traveling the world, strongly attached to her family and people but often looking to leave and looking to move on. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of her life – her father’s death, her military service, her travels to India, time spent in New York, returning to Israel to learn more about her family, becoming a mother, etc… As she writes, she slowly discovers where she comes from and what motivates her. This is a rich memoir with lots of food for thought. I’m definitely looking forward to her next book. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cindy H.

    Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for gifting me with this remarkable memoir. In exchange for the ARC I offer my unbiased review. Without a doubt I will be purchasing a physical copy of this stunning memoir so I can share it with friends and family. This collection of essays resonated with me on so many personal levels; daughter, mother, expat, Jew. I highlighted so many passages and shed too many tears. Although Ayelet Tsabari and I grew up oceans apart and lived very different Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for gifting me with this remarkable memoir. In exchange for the ARC I offer my unbiased review. Without a doubt I will be purchasing a physical copy of this stunning memoir so I can share it with friends and family. This collection of essays resonated with me on so many personal levels; daughter, mother, expat, Jew. I highlighted so many passages and shed too many tears. Although Ayelet Tsabari and I grew up oceans apart and lived very different lifestyles, I found such a strong familiarity within the pages of her story. Her vivid writing & brilliant sense for sights, sounds, smells, streets and neighborhoods kept me devouring the pages and acknowledging the truth of her experiences. “Home is collecting stories, writing them down, and retelling them.” “I remind myself we get to keep our memories and stories, take them with us wherever we go.” Israel is not some foreign land to me, but a place I consider a second home. And I recognize the scars, thorns and messy implications that carries and I applaud Ayelet Tsabari for presenting her homeland in an honest light. “Our country is haunted by its dead, weighted down by loss and remembrance.” I hope this book will resonate with all readers the way it did for me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Holly R W

    "The Art of Leaving" is a book that works on many different levels. It is the author's reflections on her own life, thus far (into her 40's). She writes about growing up in Israel as a Jewish Yemeni. Her life includes having 5 siblings, losing her father at age ten, serving in the Israeli army at 18 and then living several years abroad. The reader comes to know Ayelet as a stubborn, argumentative and independent-minded young woman who has a difficult time with commitment. During her 20's and mid "The Art of Leaving" is a book that works on many different levels. It is the author's reflections on her own life, thus far (into her 40's). She writes about growing up in Israel as a Jewish Yemeni. Her life includes having 5 siblings, losing her father at age ten, serving in the Israeli army at 18 and then living several years abroad. The reader comes to know Ayelet as a stubborn, argumentative and independent-minded young woman who has a difficult time with commitment. During her 20's and mid 30's, questions of self-identity loom large as Ayelet experiments with her sexuality, ethnicity and lifestyle. She is always restless and has perfected "the art of leaving". Unlike many of her friends, she has no interest in establishing a home and roots. Throughout Ayelet's travels and drifting, she always manages to come back to her mother and family in Israel. They may question her choices and not always understand her, but their love for her is a given. As Ayelet gets older, she learns to appreciate her mother more (and fight with her less). Learning to cook her mother's recipes was one of the more delightful chapters for me to read. With time and growing maturity, Ayelet does find stability in her life and is able to settle down. She does this in a way that is genuinely her own. The author writes in English, which is a second language for her. The words and images she uses are beautiful. Her metaphors fit naturally into her writing. They are utterly original and creative. I have featured some quotes from the book at the bottom of my review, so that others can have a taste of her writing. This is a book and author I will not forget. I look forward to future books by her. Additional Note: It's always a pleasure to stumble upon a book that is so beautifully written. This fits the "Beautiful" tag for PBT.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    3.5 rounded up to 4; weak opening, but it gets better, though her non-fiction prose is not as well crafted as her fiction. Recommended to readers who lost a parent at a tender age, current or former vagabonds, and people who became parents for the first time in middle age.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ann-Marie

    Ayelet Tsabari is an Israeli woman of Yemeni family, whose life was shaped by her ethnicity and by her beloved father's death when she was nine. She became untethered, unmoored, wandering the globe, searching for experiences that would help her define herself. "The Art of Leaving" is the story of that search. It is raw, gutsy and honest. A very worthwhile story of how one woman found her place in the world. I received this book free from Random House and Goodreads in exchange for an honest review Ayelet Tsabari is an Israeli woman of Yemeni family, whose life was shaped by her ethnicity and by her beloved father's death when she was nine. She became untethered, unmoored, wandering the globe, searching for experiences that would help her define herself. "The Art of Leaving" is the story of that search. It is raw, gutsy and honest. A very worthwhile story of how one woman found her place in the world. I received this book free from Random House and Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tamara Latinovic

    Such a beautiful memoir. I felt a strong connection to the universal themes of belonging and family. I read this to give me inspiration in my own work and it didn’t let me down. The structure of the book was so unique. It read like short essays but they were chapters that connected in terms of theme not story line. It worked perfectly.

  9. 5 out of 5

    OK

    Good memoir-essays, clean and polished prose, clear images. I learned a lot about Jewish-Yemeni & Mizrahi identity and culture, and appreciated learning about Ashkenormativity through Tsabari’s eyes. Her meditations on motherhood were moving, and the memoir ends with a strong sense of resolution. The descriptions of food and place were lovely. I needed more, especially around geopolitical critiques of Israel and Tsabari’s travel to the global south. Questions of land, nation, and exploitation—an Good memoir-essays, clean and polished prose, clear images. I learned a lot about Jewish-Yemeni & Mizrahi identity and culture, and appreciated learning about Ashkenormativity through Tsabari’s eyes. Her meditations on motherhood were moving, and the memoir ends with a strong sense of resolution. The descriptions of food and place were lovely. I needed more, especially around geopolitical critiques of Israel and Tsabari’s travel to the global south. Questions of land, nation, and exploitation—and the ways in which the author is situated in these matrices of power—were glaringly absent. I could sense certain moments of willful circumnavigation around these thorny issues, especially re: Palestine. 3/5 As I grow up, I will try to live as wildly and loudly as I can to outdo the enormity of this moment, to diminish it. - 21 Two and a half years in this body and already her attachment to it is so strong, for fear of losing her self so great. - 286 Perhaps motherhood is a series of small abandonment, in the same way that life is a series of goodbyes. - 310

  10. 4 out of 5

    Olga Gamer

    I tried, I tried so hard to make it through this memoir. The writing is beautiful but there's no real sense of structure and at a certain point, it felt hard to navigate the lack of cohesiveness. While I really liked the narrator at certain parts, other times I found her aimlessness frustrating and without purpose. I wanted more of an exploration of her grief as it related to her father's death but at the time of her enrollment in the Israeli Defense Forces, her father had been dead for nearly n I tried, I tried so hard to make it through this memoir. The writing is beautiful but there's no real sense of structure and at a certain point, it felt hard to navigate the lack of cohesiveness. While I really liked the narrator at certain parts, other times I found her aimlessness frustrating and without purpose. I wanted more of an exploration of her grief as it related to her father's death but at the time of her enrollment in the Israeli Defense Forces, her father had been dead for nearly nine years. It felt strange to use that as a plot point and then not spend much of the memoir discussing her father.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Howard

    Full review coming for Shelf Awareness (who sent me the ARC).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Smart, insightful writing. I'd like to read more by this author and about her culture. The chapters are a collection of essays arranged roughly chronologically, their stories are not totally sequential and this threw me at first. I got a little impatient with her perpetually immature/unstable nature—so opposite mine—but it resolves. Ultimately worth the read. Smart, insightful writing. I'd like to read more by this author and about her culture. The chapters are a collection of essays arranged roughly chronologically, their stories are not totally sequential and this threw me at first. I got a little impatient with her perpetually immature/unstable nature—so opposite mine—but it resolves. Ultimately worth the read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mindy

    There is so much about this book that I like---the stories of her Yemenite Jewish ancestors, her feelings of not belonging, her childhood memories---and then there are the parts which almost made me put down the book in the middle, the obsession with her drugged-up '20's and the need to tell us about every person she ever slept with on her journeys in India, Thailand, etc.; her misbehavior in the Israeli army, the general narcissism of a writer who is always writing about herself. But in some wa There is so much about this book that I like---the stories of her Yemenite Jewish ancestors, her feelings of not belonging, her childhood memories---and then there are the parts which almost made me put down the book in the middle, the obsession with her drugged-up '20's and the need to tell us about every person she ever slept with on her journeys in India, Thailand, etc.; her misbehavior in the Israeli army, the general narcissism of a writer who is always writing about herself. But in some ways she's a fascinating writer, and yet I don't really come to like her (why should she care? I still bought and read the book!). I think her current "partner" (husband) must have asked her not to write too much about him, because she writes in very little detail about him, unlike the oversharing about all her previous boyfriends. There are certain people to whom I'd recommend the book, but not generally. If you want to know about Yemenite Jews in Israel, about a young woman who loses her father at such a young age and never really recovers from that tragic event, a person always "in exile", then read Ayelet Tsabari. In certain ways, the book reminds me of Adichie's AMERICANAH (sp?), which was beloved by so many, but which I found annoying in many ways.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I ran a little hot and cold with this memoir. Sometimes I found her annoying and self-serving. She is very open and honest and does change and comes full circle eventually.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    i don't know how to rate this - i feel like it was a 3/3.5, but i originally put this at a 4. i didn't like the first half very much, and i'm not a huge fan of her writing style. i felt that some of the essays were a little repetitive. as someone who likes a linear storyline, or something that is easy to follow, it was confusing when she kept leaping around to different timelines, reintroducing the same people / time period in slightly different ways, it was sometimes difficult for me to grasp t i don't know how to rate this - i feel like it was a 3/3.5, but i originally put this at a 4. i didn't like the first half very much, and i'm not a huge fan of her writing style. i felt that some of the essays were a little repetitive. as someone who likes a linear storyline, or something that is easy to follow, it was confusing when she kept leaping around to different timelines, reintroducing the same people / time period in slightly different ways, it was sometimes difficult for me to grasp the context of each one. i also don't like redundancy, so it didn't feel like it was a cohesive memoir (vs a collection of essays), but maybe that was the point? to illustrate different pieces of memories and how they are assembled together bit by bit? and some themes just felt like they were hit on over and over again, even though they were different people, it almost all blurred into one (all the different men, etc) and no longer felt new very quickly. but some surprised me, like the one about her assault shocked me. the cultural and historical pieces were interesting and informative, especially as i just went to israel for the first time in january (and have israeli + arab friends) so i understood some (but not all) of this. i think many of the references would have been lost without this experience, which i really only had this year. she seems kind of similar to ariel levy, and the two books were actually a little similar - how they talked about freedom and motherhood at least.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nadia L. Hohn

    Oh my gosh. This audiobook was 11.24 hours of intense, beautiful, haunting, personal, and amazing reflection about Ayelet Tsabari’s life as narrated by the author. I attended a workshop given by Ayelet in 2016 (I believe) at the FOLD- festival of literary diversity- in Brampton. The Art of Leaving is the sort of impressive memoir I long to write. Raw, frustrating, loving, and tender, I identify with Tsabari’s drive to tell her story, find her family’s truths, and find herself and meaning. I can Oh my gosh. This audiobook was 11.24 hours of intense, beautiful, haunting, personal, and amazing reflection about Ayelet Tsabari’s life as narrated by the author. I attended a workshop given by Ayelet in 2016 (I believe) at the FOLD- festival of literary diversity- in Brampton. The Art of Leaving is the sort of impressive memoir I long to write. Raw, frustrating, loving, and tender, I identify with Tsabari’s drive to tell her story, find her family’s truths, and find herself and meaning. I can identify with her years of travels although mine only spanned months. I love hearing about how she became a mother and “more domestic”. I loved hearing about how much her writing means to her. I will be on the hunt now for more opportunities to learn from Ayelet. This book has made me want to read more about my own family histories as well. There are so many secrets which are complicated by migration and displacements, as Ayelet has also referred to. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this amazing work.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    This is a really beautiful collection of essays about wandering, being a Yemeni Jew in Israel and abroad, and about growing up as a young woman. Ayelet is a great writer, and I learned a lot from reading this book. As someone who loves to travel and move, I could also relate to her. The details about her childhood in Israel and her years in the Israeli army were also fascinating. I also liked learning about her lifelong desire to become a writer. There was a lot to like about this book. Kudos Ay This is a really beautiful collection of essays about wandering, being a Yemeni Jew in Israel and abroad, and about growing up as a young woman. Ayelet is a great writer, and I learned a lot from reading this book. As someone who loves to travel and move, I could also relate to her. The details about her childhood in Israel and her years in the Israeli army were also fascinating. I also liked learning about her lifelong desire to become a writer. There was a lot to like about this book. Kudos Ayelet!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I enjoyed the beginning and the end. The middle bit of "took a lot of drugs while being a 'carefree' traveller" I've heard 1000 versions of 2000 times. I enjoyed the beginning and the end. The middle bit of "took a lot of drugs while being a 'carefree' traveller" I've heard 1000 versions of 2000 times.

  19. 4 out of 5

    ✿✿✿May

    Finished listening to the audiobook and I am amazed that the author only started writing in English not too long ago and yet was able to write something so poetic.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bahar Alipour

    Amazing storytelling, I found a lot of parallels to my own story of life, the search for sense of belonging and the concept of home (except for the wandering and drugs). Powerful story! Although at times, it put me out of my comfort zone but I managed to learn from it

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ava Homa

    Craving adventure in the lockdown? Travel the world, fall in & out of love through Tsabari’s beautifully-written memoir; experience joy & awe, feel a fierce woman’s curiosity & courage.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    The Art of Leaving is about the author's wanderings. She drifted from her home in Israel to India, to Canada, and back again. I think she was searching for her own story set in the midst of her family history. She lost her father when was only 9 and sort of drifted for a few years. Eventually she settled into a career of writing, began her own family and then chose to commit her family's history to paper. It was an Interesting memoir, although in some parts my attention did wane. Thanks to NetGa The Art of Leaving is about the author's wanderings. She drifted from her home in Israel to India, to Canada, and back again. I think she was searching for her own story set in the midst of her family history. She lost her father when was only 9 and sort of drifted for a few years. Eventually she settled into a career of writing, began her own family and then chose to commit her family's history to paper. It was an Interesting memoir, although in some parts my attention did wane. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emilia

    What a memoir! Ayelet Tsabari's collection of essays was so artfully weaved together I inhaled it in 24 hours. Her voice is exquisite - she is a truly gifted storyteller. What a memoir! Ayelet Tsabari's collection of essays was so artfully weaved together I inhaled it in 24 hours. Her voice is exquisite - she is a truly gifted storyteller.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa Nelson

    *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* The Art of Leaving struck me as being a woman version of On the Road, except the Tsabari tells infinitely better stories than Kerouac does, and her story contains a profoundness that I just never found within Kerouac’s work. Tsabari goes in-depth with recounting her life, leaving bare all the struggles and hurts she’s had with her father’s death, the oppression she felt since a small child *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* The Art of Leaving struck me as being a woman version of On the Road, except the Tsabari tells infinitely better stories than Kerouac does, and her story contains a profoundness that I just never found within Kerouac’s work. Tsabari goes in-depth with recounting her life, leaving bare all the struggles and hurts she’s had with her father’s death, the oppression she felt since a small child living in Israel as a Mizrahi Jewish person, and her endless search for a place where she could stay for longer than a year or two. This book is emotional and is the best type of memoir where you feel as though you’re hanging out with the author, hearing her tell you stories from her life. While some were extremely far from my own field of reference–in which case I enjoyed learning more about how different people live in different places–others were all too relatable and familiar and made me reflect on my own life after reading. One of my favorite moments is when Tsabari is trying to get her grandmother to recount family stories; her grandmother was a fierce, strong woman (much like Tsabari herself). The life stories she shares are gripping, and I am in awe of Tsabari’s whole family for what they’ve gone through and the cheer and contentment they have found for themselves (that includes the author as well)! Aside from the profundity of the stories, the level of humor within the book is what kept me turning those pages. The main difference, really, between Tsabari and Kerouac is that Tsabari is able to take a look at herself and laugh–she doesn’t take herself too seriously, and her recollections about her stubbornness and bold adventures have a hint of laughter to them, which I absolutely loved. This created a nice balance within the narrative itself; a lot of the stories are serious and heartbreaking, but they’re sprinkled in with some fun stories or fun moments, and this creates a wholly realized reflection on life that is so satisfying and readable. This book is everything; it contains complex explorations and thoughts about growing up, becoming an adult, and finding yourself; experiences that anyone can relate to. And it is BEAUTIFULLY written. Tsabari is a rockstar writer, truly. The way she crafts sentences is beyond compare, and there were quite a few times when I just had to pause reading this to soak in the way she conveyed an image or a thought. If you’re at all a fan of memoir, I highly recommend this to you. It’s a wonderful read. Also posted on Purple People Readers.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Caren

    "Losing [my father] was the end and the beginning of everything, the cosmic explosion of my little universe. It was the reason I left my home, my family, and my language, and ran away from anything that threatened to tether me down, anything that could break me if it suddenly vanished..." With characteristic honesty, vulnerable Tsabari explores her journey to self-awareness. Her father's death, when she was nine years old, tore apart her budding identity, her connection to her family and its Yem "Losing [my father] was the end and the beginning of everything, the cosmic explosion of my little universe. It was the reason I left my home, my family, and my language, and ran away from anything that threatened to tether me down, anything that could break me if it suddenly vanished..." With characteristic honesty, vulnerable Tsabari explores her journey to self-awareness. Her father's death, when she was nine years old, tore apart her budding identity, her connection to her family and its Yemini culture, and left her struggling through her young adulthood to find where she belonged. This engaging memoir takes readers to the countries she escapes to, through her drug-taking years of trying to numb her sense of loss, and to the relationships she abandons before she herself is abandoned. And, through all her memories, the reader sees through her anger and masks to the sadness that is at her core. Tsabari's insights are meticulously drawn; the reader comes to care about her and about her Yemeni family and its traditions, its history, and the culture that ultimately anchors her to it. These observations were, for me, the most poignant. What emerges from her memoir is the deep pride and respect she rekindles as a Yemeni-Israeli author, wherever she lives (in America, in Canada), especially her commitment to creating space for that distinct voice among a largely Ashkenazi literary tradition.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    The entire time I was reading this memoir I could not stop thinking, “Wow!” Wow because Ayelet Tsabari has succeeded in capturing so many sights and smells that are familiar to me but also many experiences that are completely foreign. These beautifully-crafted essays take us on a journey that begins when she is nine, grief-stricken over her father’s death, through her youth in Israel and post-army travels to the United States, Canada, India, and Thailand, and finally back to Israel. The trauma o The entire time I was reading this memoir I could not stop thinking, “Wow!” Wow because Ayelet Tsabari has succeeded in capturing so many sights and smells that are familiar to me but also many experiences that are completely foreign. These beautifully-crafted essays take us on a journey that begins when she is nine, grief-stricken over her father’s death, through her youth in Israel and post-army travels to the United States, Canada, India, and Thailand, and finally back to Israel. The trauma of her father’s death seems to follow her to all these places and while she remains close with her family much of her 20s and 30s are spent apart from them, on opposite sides of the ocean. She toys with the traditional notion of “home” – “Home was transient, constantly shifting. Home, essentially, was the act of leaving –not a physical place, but the pattern of walking away from it,” she writes in the essay “If I Forget You.” Ultimately, she concludes that home is both where her family is, but also collecting stories. “Home is the page. The one place I always, always come back to.” As a reader, I’m so glad she does always come back to the page. Each essay is exquisite, and it’s a tribute to Tsabari’s talent that English is not her first language. I finished this volume very quickly, hungry for more of Tsabari’s words and wisdom.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elda Mengisto

    "In finding Leyla and her friends, I began to discover something in me that had lain dormant: the Yemeni identity I had rejected as a child growing up in a country that suppressed Mizrahi traditions and educated in a school system that concentrated on European Ashkenazi history and literature" (130) A year ago, the author came to my university to promote this new book. They gave them out for free in the literature department, so as one read the first two essays before the talk. I took in the oppo "In finding Leyla and her friends, I began to discover something in me that had lain dormant: the Yemeni identity I had rejected as a child growing up in a country that suppressed Mizrahi traditions and educated in a school system that concentrated on European Ashkenazi history and literature" (130) A year ago, the author came to my university to promote this new book. They gave them out for free in the literature department, so as one read the first two essays before the talk. I took in the opportunity and rushed through the first two, liking the storytelling and the framing of her experiences in Israel. The essay "A Simple Girl" stood out, particularly because I didn't know Ofra Haza's influence in the Israeli music scene; "I would never get to tell her what she had meant to me growing up...in a world where the actors on TV were Ashkenazi and the singers on the radio where Ashkenazi and the models in magazines were Ashkenazi, there was Ofra, the simple Yemeni girl from HaTikva neighborhood whose star shone brighter than anyone's..." (39) As suggested by the title, "The Art of Leaving" revolves around Tsabari's semi-nomadic lifestyle growing up, starting with her roots in Israel and journeying with her through her semi-nomadic life. Tsabari struggles with things ranging from getting enough money to get her next ticket to love and everything else in between. All around, she struggles with her identity as a Yemeni Jew, both within a country which suppresses it and abroad where she seeks to make herself. Mentioned earlier, I really liked the first two essays. They set the stage for what was going on in her life, and introduce some quirks. One thing which endeared me was in the beginning of the book, featuring the first sentence "For my tenth birthday, my father promised he would publish my writing in a book" (3). It introduces some form of innocence, but going deeper, we get a feel of what was going on Tsabari's world. This would permeate her life later one, and would eventually come in full circle near the end, where Ayelet would discover her father's poetry and "something new did emerge. I could see my father as a young man: he smokes and drinks, falls in love but hesitates; he wants to write; he's full of doubt. In one poem, he hears whipsers telling him to burn it all, a voice that says 'A poet's craft is an artist's realm/not for you,son of Yemen' " (276). I get a similar feeling, because my great-grandfather wrote poetry (though I have yet to read them because I don't know Amharic). I love that connection. However, it's also the times where Ayelet was alone where she writes very well. In addition, some of the stories were quite interesting. "Kerosene: A Love Story" starts with Ayelet apparently drinking some kerosene, fearing that she would die very soon, and it later goes onto her platonic relationship with Raz. "His wisdom always came as a surprise, like the brilliant musings of a child. Other times he was ambiguous, muddled; his language raw, inarticulate, exasperating for someone like me, who strived for linguistic precision" (154) It was curious, especially with Raz's change by the end of the essay. Another one was with "Hornets", which dealt with the story of actual hornets in Ayelet's home and her shyness with a relationship that teaches her to eventually become stable and pursue her writing ambitions. And there were other essays which also give a glimpse of herself and the world. One thing which stood out was the "Yemenite Soup and Other Recipes" chapter, where she bookends it with a special cake recipe which her mother makes. We also get an interesting scene during her road-trip, where "I feel bonded with [Gilad], not just by grief but by this memory, forever our answer to this question. It will always be him and me on the way to the San Diego Zoo, him and me on this hotel bed, watching CNN and holding each other on the day Rabin was assassinated" (95). It doesn't convey of Ayelet's identity, but it shows the sadness of a collective tragedy. If you want to look at other points of view, indulge in some really good writing, or just want to see more diversity, then The Art of Leaving is great for the summer!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Coming off of this memoir I can't help but compare it to a recent read in the same genre: DIRTY WARS AND POLISHED SILVER by Lynda Schuster. Schuster was also commitment phobic and traveled the world to outrun a domestic life. (Which they would later overturn in their thirties when both felt a sudden need to procreate.) In Tsabari's case, she was a Yemeni Jew living in Israel. Her first few essays were about her formative years at home, and they spoke in part to her desire to get away. She lost he Coming off of this memoir I can't help but compare it to a recent read in the same genre: DIRTY WARS AND POLISHED SILVER by Lynda Schuster. Schuster was also commitment phobic and traveled the world to outrun a domestic life. (Which they would later overturn in their thirties when both felt a sudden need to procreate.) In Tsabari's case, she was a Yemeni Jew living in Israel. Her first few essays were about her formative years at home, and they spoke in part to her desire to get away. She lost her father to cancer when she was ten, which left a deep impact on her life. She also bucked at the idea of authoritarianism, which isn't exactly the right fit in a country with mandatory military conscription. :P When she got out of the army she traveled the world for several decades. But unlike with Schuster, who predominately took on the role of a war correspondent, Tsabari took odd jobs and drugs and generally disengaged from society. But the way she delved into relationships felt a lot more organic than Schuster's way. A lot of the material in these collected essays were obviously the inspiration for her short stories in BEST PLACE ON EARTH. Overall, I enjoy the short stories better. They had a sense of a completed narrative arc, whereas these interconnected essays were more open-ended. "Yemeni Soup and Other Recipes" was particularly erratic, since the narrative stopped and stalled over memories associated with different food dishes. I still really loved the essays, though. Tsabari is a deeply thoughtful writer, like in "If I Forget You": "I may have had many homes throughout my life, but I only ever had one true *home* home, and it was the security of that house that allowed me to leave over and over again, to drift and be flighty, because I knew I could always come back to it." Or in "Soldiers": "I can't shake the feeling that I liked the idea of Ali more than I liked Ali, and that my contribution to world peace had little to do with the world and more to do with my need for instant gratification. My need for a good story." Or "Kerosene: A Love Story:" "He tried to teach me to be still, how to not spew words senselessly, carelessly. I always talked, covering up for awkward silences or any silence, not being able to tell them apart." "An American Dream" started and ended with Tsaari desperately trying to find the sense of excitement as she entered and exited New York City; maybe the most cyclical essay of the bunch. But the one that affected me the most, certainly because I was also watching "Leaving Neverland," a documentary where two men allege sexual abuse against Michael Jackson, was "A Sleepless Beast." Tsabari's situation is much different; it involves her friend's father coercing her into one night of heavy petting before he backs off. But the way he played his daughter and Tsabari against each other reminded me a bit of the "conditioning" that the documentary described. More broadly, Tsbari's essays touched upon what it is to be an immigrant, a world traveler, and a Mizrahi Jew in Israel. Moving and informative on many levels, I'm glad she wrote it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    I’ve fallen in love with Ayelet Tsabari. In the “I want her to be my best friend because she reminds me of me and therefore would totally get me” kind of way. The Art of Leaving is Ayelet Tsabari’s collection of personal essays, starting around the death of her father when she was 9, and moving on through her two years in the IDF, her extensive travels and life abroad, relationships, love, family: her musings on life in her beautiful voice. I felt like I was coming home when I started this book. I’ve fallen in love with Ayelet Tsabari. In the “I want her to be my best friend because she reminds me of me and therefore would totally get me” kind of way. The Art of Leaving is Ayelet Tsabari’s collection of personal essays, starting around the death of her father when she was 9, and moving on through her two years in the IDF, her extensive travels and life abroad, relationships, love, family: her musings on life in her beautiful voice. I felt like I was coming home when I started this book. The writing is beautiful, full of metaphors, and because I related to so much of it I felt like I was curling up on the couch with a very old friend. The way that Ayelet Tsabari describes the Arava desert and the feelings she gets when arriving in Eilat reminded me of my own; her descriptions of different places in India, of NYC, LA… So much of it felt like home, or at least some place that could have been home for me for a while. Losing one’s father early in life has lifelong effects that shape lives, decisions, and even thoughts. I know because it happened to me too. Obviously my life is not the same as Ayelet Tsabari’s, we grew up in very different places, in different families, different cultures, but there are many places where our lives could have interlocked, ships bumping into each other while crossing oceans. Growing up feeling like I didn’t belong somewhat, immigrant, lost, found, sister, girlfriend, carer, holder of secrets until death… I have been writing essays and poems about my home(s) for so many years, holding them close to my heart, and it was so inspiring to read someone else’s stories of home, of leaving, someone else’s wanderings. I also learned a lot from the author about growing up Mizrahi in Israel. It cleared up some questions I had about certain words/actions/reactions I noticed on and off between employees during my time working on the kibbutz in Israel. It made sense a long time afterwards, but I feel I was very naïve at the time… In any case it makes me happy to read Israel from perspectives and people who are underrepresented. I now need to jump on Ayelet Tsabari’s first publication, The Best Place On Earth, because as I said above, I have fallen in love with her writing and the way she describes her world, our world. Also, I feel terribly homesick now for my home that will never be my home Israel, and for my home that will always be my home NYC. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance copy. Thanks to Ayelet Tsabari for the beautiful words, for the inspiration, and for all of the memories that this book drew from my soul.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: The Art of Leaving Author: Ayelet Tsabari Publisher: Random House Publication Date: February 19, 2019 Review Date: February 8, 2019 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. From the Amazon blurb: “An intimate memoir in essays by an award-winning Israeli writer who travels the world, from New York to India, searching for love, belonging, and an escape from grief following the death of her father when she was a young girl This searching collection opens with the d Book Review: The Art of Leaving Author: Ayelet Tsabari Publisher: Random House Publication Date: February 19, 2019 Review Date: February 8, 2019 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. From the Amazon blurb: “An intimate memoir in essays by an award-winning Israeli writer who travels the world, from New York to India, searching for love, belonging, and an escape from grief following the death of her father when she was a young girl This searching collection opens with the death of Ayelet Tsabari’s father when she was just nine years old. His passing left her feeling rootless, devastated, and driven to question her complex identity as an Israeli of Yemeni descent in a country that suppressed and devalued her ancestors’ traditions.” This was a most extraordinary memoir. The story of the writer’s life is intense, deep, fascinating and educational. It is filled with an abundance of beautiful language and imagery. What particularly blew me away is that she wrote the book in English, not her first language. I learned a great deal about Israeli-Yemeni culture. Arab Jews. These non-white, non-European Jews are treated with the same prejudice that is alive the world over. Called the Mizrahi, the Yemeni Jews were/are treated as 2nd-class citizens, in the same way African Americans are treated by the white European culture in the US. The author is stunningly honest; about her journey, her feelings, her search for Home, in response to the devastating death of her father at an early age. For her young adult years she is a traveling vagabond, committed to leaving people before they can leave her first, and be hurt so badly again. She ultimately settles down when she meets her husband Sean, and has her beloved daughter. She is a well-known essayist, who prior to this book, was not on my radar. I could not put her book down, and now having found her, I will search out her other works. Her writing is absolutely brilliant. If you like to read memoir, if you have an interest in Israel, and particularly the Yemeni Israeli history and culture, if you love beautifully written imagery, and biography written with intensity, this book is for you. Highly, highly recommended. 5+ stars! This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. Thank you to Random House for an early look at this magnificent memoir. #netgalley #theartofleaving #randomhouse

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