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.