Ten ways ‘What’s Left’ and ‘Nearly Canaan’ differ

I’m relieved to find these two novels have big differences.

Here are ten.


  1. Children and family. Cassia starts telling her tale from age 11, and she’s surrounded by her two brothers and a clutch of close cousins. No kids of note in Jaya’s tale.
  2. Greeks. Central to Cassia’s identity. None pop up in Nearly Canaan.
  3. Gypsies. Are they really a strand in Cassia’s background? Not a factor in Jaya’s.
  4. Ghosts. Cassia’s dealing with her family history, after all. Jaya isn’t.
  5. The cat. A key figure in Nearly Canaan. None by name with Cassia.
  6. Sexuality. More explicit in some scenes of Nearly Canaan.
  7. Infidelity. For Cassia, it’s an issue in her parents’ generation. In Jaya’s circle, it’s a more immediate threat.
  8. Wilderness. The desert is a major influence when Jaya and Joshua move west. Hardly noticeable for Cassia, even when she’s living in Las Vegas. In addition, much of Nearly Canaan veers off into the forests and mountains to their west.
  9. The volcano. A turning point in Nearly Canaan. No geologic activity in What’s Left, apart from the mountain that triggers Cassia’s lifelong obsession.
  10. Photography. Her father’s archives become the key to Cassia’s discoveries. None to examine with Jaya.


Any of these strike your fancy?

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