I am embarrassed to say that I am still in my bathrobe. After packing the lunches, signing notes, and buttoning up my children against the wind, I sank back into the covers to read "just one more chapter" of Amy Bloom’s, Away. Needless to say, it wasn’t one more chapter. It was many and more until the book was done.
Away, follows the journey of Lillian Leyb, a Jew escaping from the pogroms of Russia to Ellis Island then follows her trip across America to Alaska and back to Russia to find her lost daughter. Bloom’s stream of conscious language sets the rhythm of the twenties, and the rhythm of desperation of the various characters. The characters, from New York Yiddish theatre kings to Seattle Prostitutes, are each flesh and bone and motivation and clothes and relatives and back story and future story and yet… they never take over the story. The reader is always eager to follow Lillian in the next steps of her journey.
The research for this book must have been fun and hard and long and, I imagine, frustrating at points. The list of acknowledgements is lengthy. I was particularly struck by the symbolism in the text. Scars, in particular. Scars are stories of our pasts and Bloom mines them beautifully. When and to whom do we tell the true stories of our scars? When do we exaggerate? When do we downplay our experiences?Just lovely.
If you have a gift card from a book store, and are looking for a grown-up novel, don’t pass up Away. My husband picked up our copy in the airport and so I waited to read it. Perhaps I was just waiting for a day when no one would stop me from immersing myself in the vibrant world that Bloom creates so skillfully.
Back to work.