The big question I have about this book concerns the cover (which apparently will be the same when the paperback in issued in a few months). I get the landscape; although it doesn’t look like an Alaskan landscape I get the idea. But why the still life?
I suppose that if I’m so distracted by the cover art, I’m not really into the book, right? Well, I did read it all in one day, but that’s because I borrowed it and I want to return it ASAP.
Amy Bloom is a popular writer and well-regarded, but I haven’t read anything of hers before. Away is not my favorite book. The descriptions of the places, clothing, and culture of the time (mid-1920’s) are well done. The characters are unbelievable.
After a pogrom in her native Russia destroys her family and her town, the protagonist, Lillian, emigrates to America and winds up on the lower East Side of New York City. After hearing from a newly-arrived cousin that her young daughter is still alive, Lillian treks across the continental United States and through Alaska towards Siberia. The trip is difficult and dangerous; the fact that she even survives is miraculous.
The premise is quite interesting, but the book does not follow through. Most of the characters are shallowly drawn, more like caricatures. They need to be more interesting to make this book work
Published in hard cover-Random House-2007
Softcover edition-Random House-2008