20 minutes ago
"Everyone has two memories. The one you can tell and the one that is stuck to the underside of that, the dark, tarry smear of what happened."
This quote really embodies the soul of Lillian's story. It's as though we're skating on a frozen lake -- we see Lillian and the other characters as they move through the pages of the story and we hear some of their thoughts. The emotional turmoil and the thoughts too dark or tragic to be voiced, however, are left just under the surface, in the depths of the lake, to be inferred or guessed at by the reader, like looking through a sheet of ice. As in life, there's more to every story.
I read Bloom's short story collection Come to Me last year, and was looking forward to reading one of her novels. I ended up listening to this on audio book on my way home from school last week and fell in love with Bloom's descriptive and poignant writing style all over again.
Lillian immigrates to New York City in the 1920s from Turov, Russia after her family is murdered. She sets herself up as the mistress to a father/son pair and lives comfortably in New York. When she hears that her daughter, Sophie, may have survived and been taken to Siberia by another family, Lillian sets off to find her. Unable to afford the sea voyage home, she maps her route in the opposite direction and plans to cross from Alaska to Russia via the Bering Strait.
What I loved about this book, aside from the beautiful writing, was that as each character exits Lillian's story, we are offered a glimpse into their future. This book is about Lillian's journey, but the people that star in her story also have journeys of their own. Each character has a history and a depth. Bloom has created an entire world around her main character.
To hear Amy Bloom talk about her inspiration and read a passage from Away, play the video below:
I would also like to note that the ending can be interpreted in more than one direction. I have my thoughts, but I will keep them to myself--I don't want to spoil it for you. Overall, a beautiful story and a wonderful read.
Buy Away at Amazon.com