Home  \  Authors  \  Authors  \  Gail Hareven  \ 

I Am Leona

Gail Hareven

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 moral thing.

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. 



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 Ahronoth


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.

Yael (Rubinstein) 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


A captivating, 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 Rishon


Gail Hareven’s new book has an unforgettable heroine … Hareven has written a larger-than-life novel about a larger-than-life character.

Israel Hayom


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 Hasefer

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


Leona’s journey 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 recommended.  

Tsipi Artsi, Saloona 

Title I Am Leona
Author’s Last Name Hareven
Author's First Name Gail
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Achuzat Bayit
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2014
No. Pages 539 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Ani Leona
Representation Represented by ITHL
Take a look at our latest catalogue!