Leona was born in Africa, where her father was working. She
was loved and happy in her sunlit world. Because there was nobody to keep her
occupied, she read avidly from an early age― books raised her, and their heroes
were her friends and role models for coping with life. But then things went
wrong. One day, Leona had to leave Africa, travel with her grandmother to
Israel, and begin an unexpected life. Her experiences cut stormily across
social groups, beginning on a kibbutz, continuing in an ultra-Orthodox
community and later in the bohemian student milieu of Jerusalem. She gradually
grows into an attractive teenager and then a woman who encounters love. On the
way, she meets a variety of characters, whom she loves or dislikes, and in
order to cope she recalls the heroes in her books, striving to do the right and
I Am Leona is a tumultuous
novel, inspired by the picaresque novels of the 19th century. Since
Leona’s unique language draws on the books she has been reading since
childhood, she often sounds as if she herself had just emerged from their
pages. A courageous and inspiring young person, she faces many problems without
giving up on the search for the good in human beings.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
A book full of charm …
I Am Leona teems delightfully with the heroes of classical world culture
and those who wrote about them … Leona captures the hearts of the readers.
Edna Shemesh, Haaretz
Hareven, one of our
country’s most pleasant female authors, relates her heroine’s actions in rich
language across a broad canvas of truly classical literature, lingering upon
each description and feeling. She makes demands on the reader’s time and
rewards him with long hours of enjoyment, at the end of which there is a clear
conclusion: This world needs as many Leonas as possible.
Ran Bin-Nun, Yedioth
Gail Hareven’s book
gives us a taste of a bygone time. With an artist’s hand, she sketches the
complex figure of a young girl with a remarkable life story, character and
talents. I read the book in one go.
Limor Livnat, Globes
Leona is an unusual character
because she has the qualities of literary heroes of bygone days: she is larger
than life, noble, strong, aspiring to be good, and by virtue of all this she
carries the entire novel on her shoulders.
Nizan, Makor Rishon
Gail Hareven is a
talented and seasoned writer, who knows how to handle her plot and to build up
a gripping chain of events accompanied by illuminating descriptions.
Yoav Shai, Walla
In marvelous style,
Hareven writes a story that will appeal to all lovers of classical world
literature, as well as to lovers of contemporary Hebrew literature.
Tzippi Gurion Mako
enthralling book … The characters are alive and interesting, the feeling that
it is a classic is so strong that it is hard to believe it is a Hebrew book.
Gilad Nadler, Makor
Gail Hareven’s new
book has an unforgettable heroine … Hareven has written a larger-than-life
novel about a larger-than-life character.
I Am Leona won me over from the
first page…A remarkable book…an engrossing experience … The language is
impressive, the characters are alive, and Leona is not easily forgotten. Book
lovers will enjoy the innumerable allusions to great works, which dovetail
naturally and gracefully into the course of events…Highly recommended.
Eti Sarusi, Anshei
One of the finest
books to be published here in recent years. An experience from which it is
difficult to part.
Yoel Cohen, LaIsha
Gail Hareven writes so
superbly that at the end of the book I simply felt like calling her up and
telling her how marvelous she is … I read the book with bated breath and total
identification … I couldn’t stop reading … Recommended with all my heart.
Bina Ofek, Marmelada
fascinates and dizzies the reader, drawing him into the book’s inner world so
that all sense of time and place are lost … An excellent novel by a fine writer
… I found it hard to put the book down … Leona is not easily forgotten, she
continues to echo inside the reader’s head long after the book is over … Highly
Tsipi Artsi, Saloona