Away, written by Amy Bloom

September book club selection

Amy Bloom is a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In addition to the #1 bestseller ‘Away’, she has written two books and many stories. Bloom has also won a National Magazine Award. ‘Away’ is in it’s 10th reprint and wildly successful.
I struggled reading this book, wasn't able to stay captivated – when I finished the novel I felt compassion for immigrants traveling to America with no money and trying to find a new life. As Lillian moves from city to city on her journey home to find her daughter, I found the story repeating itself. If someone from our book club had read this book in advance, we wouldn’t have read it. There wasn't as much to discuss as we had hoped and we walked away with many unanswered questions.
Type: Historical Fiction, 256 pages, Hardcover
Readers guide: Yes
Recommend for Book group: This is a tough question – how do we say no to the #1 best seller? I recommend this book to read, but it was tough for our group to discuss. You will learn a piece of unspoken history.

Synopsis:
Panoramic in scope, Away is the epic and intimate story of young Lillian Leyb, a dangerous innocent, an accidental heroine. When her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom, Lillian comes to America alone, determined to make her way in a new land. When word comes that her daughter, Sophie, might still be alive, Lillian embarks on an odyssey that takes her from the world of the Yiddish theater on New York’s Lower East Side, to Seattle’s Jazz District, and up to Alaska, along the fabled Telegraph Trail toward Siberia. All of the qualities readers love in Amy Bloom’s work-her humor and wit, her elegant and irreverent language, her unflinching understanding of passion and the human heart-come together in the embrace of this brilliant novel, which is at once heartbreaking, romantic, and completely unforgettable.
Reviews:
“The journey–through Chicago by train, into Seattle’s African-American underworld and across the Alaskan wilderness–elevates Bloom’s novel from familiar immigrant chronicle to sweeping saga of endurance and rebirth. Encompassing prison, prostitution and poetry, Yiddish humor and Yukon settings, Bloom’s tale offers linguistic twists, startling imagery, sharp wit and a compelling vision of the past. Bloom has created an extraordinary range of characters, settings and emotions.” - Publisher’s Weekly

“Raunchy, funny, and touching. Away is an elegant window into the perils of invention and reinvention in New York in the twenties. Amy Bloom’s heroine, Lillian, is an unforgettable young woman on a quest to make her life whole and to belong in an unstable, yet fascinating, new American world.” - Caryl Phillips, author of A Distant Shore

1 comment

  1. While the characters in this book are fairly well developed, I didn't find myself caring for any of them. Despite being a relatively short book, it was difficult to get through.

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