cover image The Art of Leaving: A Memoir

The Art of Leaving: A Memoir

Ayelet Tsabari. Random House, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8129-8898-7

Tsabari (The Best Place on Earth) offers an insightful and kaleidoscopic account of a life scarred by the death of her father from a heart attack when she was in fourth grade. One of six children born into a Jewish Yemeni family living near Tel Aviv, Tsabari was close with her father, a lawyer who wrote poetry. The author aspired to write as well, but when her father died she lost her sense of security and direction, things she wouldn’t recover until adulthood. After graduating high school in the early 1990s, she served in the Israeli Army and then traveled to New York, India, and Thailand; she candidly writes of dabbling in drugs and acquiring and jettisoning boyfriends. She eventually landed in Vancouver, Canada, where she married and divorced within a couple of years. Her fear of attachment to any one person or place kept Tsabari constantly on the move when at age 28—with no money saved and no prospects—she came to the realization that “leaving is the only thing I know how to do.” By the book’s end, Tsabari seems contented and her prose feels lighter as she describes how, in her 30s, she met and married a sailor named Sean. Readers will be moved by Tsabari’s colorful, intimate memoir. (Feb.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated when the author graduated from high school.