Book Cover Places We Left Behind by Jennifer Lang
Reading Recommendations

Places We Left Behind

Must there be sacrifice?

As a nomad, I’m drawn to international stories about displacement. My life drastically changed when my husband and I lost our Parisian home in the winter of 2019 and began traveling around the world. I cannot always identify why my wandering existence is as challenging as it is rewarding, so I seek out authors with similar experiences in the hope they will shine their light. What does it mean to endlessly pack up and leave, and why do we keep doing it?

Jennifer Lang, author of the clever memoir Places We Left Behind, pines for elsewhere as a youth and ends up peripatetic. Like me, she yearns for change and adventures, but unlike me, her decisions on moving from one place to the next are complicated by career opportunities, her husband’s conflicting interests, issues of safety, and what might be best for the kids.

The painful thread running through Lang’s moving memoir is the question of sacrifice. What should we give up for the person we love? Can you ask your wife to relocate to a country where she feels unsafe? Ask your husband to live where he feels dead? Whose wishes carry more weight? How do we stop feeding resentments?

Lang makes a strong case for accepting compromises in the name of love and an equally strong case for protecting the habits and values that ground us. Read this compelling memoir to find out how her inner journey continues and whether she retrieves what she left behind.

Read my full review in Heavy Feather Review.

Places We Left Behind, by Jennifer Lang. Vine Leaves Press, September 2023.

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