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Away

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  7,849 ratings  ·  1,640 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published August 21st 2007 by Random House (first published December 30th 1996)
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443rd out of 1,277 books — 2,922 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Doug Bradshaw
Jan 26, 2008 Doug Bradshaw rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Unsqueamish
Recommended to Doug by: NYTimes and EW
Rather than review, I'm going to make my observations:

1. The book transported me into the life and brain of a 22 year old Russian girl who had to flee Russia to America in the 1920s. She has lived through the slaughter of her family and arrives in NYC without anything but the dress she's wearing. The author does a great job of putting you into the girl's shoes and you feel numb, desperate, your survival instincts kick in and you become ready to do what it takes to survive. Some of these things
...more
Lillian
I took a writing class with Amy Bloom during my freshman year of college. What stuck with me most from this class was her insistence that even when you're writing about an unlikable, even villainous, character, it is essential that you have sympathy for that character, or the story won't work.

That perspective is what I admire most about Amy Bloom's fiction. Almost all of the characters in Away are seriously flawed human beings, but she paints such vivid portraits of these characters' inner live
...more
Ewurama
The review is long overdue on this, but here goes…

I wanted to *love* this book. I’d come off a string of just-okay books and was very much in the mood for something epic and heartwarming (or heartrending) and memorable. It was well-reviewed and the storyline sounded promising, so I was excited to read it. Briefly, the book is about a young Russian woman, Lillian Leyb, who escapes to NYC after her family is massacred in a pogrom only to journey back to Siberia (!) upon discovering that her young
...more
Lindsey
I'm very unsure of how I feel about this book. Parts of me loved it and parts of me felt so un-intellectual and low-brow for reading this romance novel, which essentially, is what it is. For being a journey story about a woman who goes to find her daughter who was thought to be dead, there was nothing much about the daughter, just the people our heroine meets a long the way. For the most part, the characters weren't interesting (except for one prostitute named Gumdrop), the action was pretty bor ...more
Rosa
This book is really interesting. Considering the basic plot - Russian Jewish woman whose entire family was slaughtered before her eyes escapes to America with literally nothing, establishes a fairly comfortable life here, then completely abandons it to go back to Siberia, due to a rumor that her young daughter whom she previously thought dead might still be alive - on plot alone, it seems like exactly the type of book my mother-in-law would read in her book club. However, when I looked at the re ...more
Bonnie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
YoSafBridg
"an orphan, a widow, and the mother of a dead child, for which there's not even a special word"

A few years ago i read The Woman who Walked to Russia: a writer's search for a lost legend by Cassandra Pybus. Pybus was browsing a bookshop while traveling through Northern British Columbia when she first heard of Lillian Alling, a woman purported to have walked from New York to Alaska on her way to Siberia in 1927. There were bits and pieces of the legend to be found here and there that told how Lil
...more
Shira
This book was recommended by a co-worker, and the premise sounded very interesting. Unfortunately, I really disliked the writing style. I found it very disjointed. The narration also seemed kind of distant, and it gave very little insight into how the main character felt about the terrible things happening in her life.

Aside from the writing style, I also found the story to be very depressing. It tells the story of a young Jewish woman, Lillian, in the 1920s who flees her home in Russia after he
...more
Mark
I put this book on my list primarily because of several rave reviews from Goodreads friends. I made it to page 79, but it's going back to the library today.

The story itself was inventive and should have held my interest: Russian Jewish woman in the 1920s sees most of her family cruelly butchered in a pogrom and believes her daughter has died or is permanently missing, then ships to America, where she becomes involved with both the father and son in a Yiddish theater dynasty in New York.

I reali
...more
Beverly
The voice in this novel is impeccable. The main character, Lillian, is so human that I feel I *really* do know her. Her adventure gets moving in the second half of the book, and the novel changes from a compelling story of an immigrant escaping to safety to an un-put-downable tale of Lillian's struggle to return to the source of her pain. I've read few novels that make me feel like love has been honestly explored, but this is one.

Bloom descends briefly into the full lives of characters who have
...more
tee
Mar 31, 2008 tee rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own
When I read some of Bloom's short stories, I wrote that I would have loved to have seen some of her short stories, fleshed out to be novels because I found her characters so unique and intriguing. Reading 'Away', I realise that even with the extra length of a novel to play with, Bloom still doesn't really flesh out her characters. They were fascinating, in description, then before you even got to get to know them, and love them or hate them, Lillian was leaving them behind. So I was left with th ...more
thewanderingjew
When I opened the book to read, I discovered that I had already read it but did not remember it any cohesive way. To me, since it didn't leave much of a lasting impression, it would mean it was good but not wonderful. Only the most extreme events of the novel stayed in my mind, but even then, it was only in the barest outline form, so I had to skim the entire book in order to have it come together again in my memory.
I will say that it was an interesting book with many interrelated themes of surv
...more
Britni
Here's the storyline I came away with- a woman immigrates to America and sleeps around to get what she wants and overcome poverty. The real plot is that a woman comes to America after her family, including a 4 year old daughter are murdered, where she is given a seamstress job at a theater in NY. The lead actor (also the theater owner's husband) takes a fancy to her, and she becomes both his and his father's mistress. A cousin comes and tells her that her daughter is actually alive, and she deci ...more
Ann
This was my book club’s choice for June. It’s not something I would have chosen on my own, partly because of the odd bowl of fruit on the cover.

Away is the story of Lillian Leyb, whose family was killed in Russia in the 1920’s. She finds herself in America ready to start life anew when she learns that her daughter may have survived back in Russia. “She 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 A
...more
Jen
The editor of Publisher's Weekly said this was her favorite book of 2007, so I had to check it out. I'll be chewing on this one for awhile - there are some heavy issues, as Lillian, the heroine, is a Russian immigrant whose Jewish family was slaughtered because of their religion. She faces a hard life in America in the 1920s, when she gets the news that her young daughter is alive, taken by neighbors to Siberia. So she starts the long trek to find her daughter, meeting all sorts of colorful char ...more
☮Karen
While a bit slow in a few sections, I enjoyed this book immensely. Other reviewers have said the writing was a bit disjointed but I only noticed it once and then I still was able to piece together what had just happened. Lillian's quest to cross America and get to Siberia had her meeting some very engaging, unusual characters. I could see this as a movie with scenes from the New York theatre life to Seattle's Skid Row to adventures in Alaska's wilderness. I would like to read more of Amy Bloom's ...more
Donna
A book to read when you want to read words and not skim to get to the good bits as such in this book, its a hard fought journey beautifully crafted. It did take me a long time to really immerse myself in this novel. Each stage of her journey was like reading a short story and at times it felt like you may have read a similar sort of story or setting in another book many years ago. As Lillian moved on to the next place and set of characters you were rewarded with a synopsis of what would eventual ...more
Katie
the story focuses on the external awesome life of an immigrant woman Lillian from the pograms to the lower east side to the pacific northwest to Alaska to Russia again. The charming, determined heroine struggles to survive, and then find her daughter again, and perhaps to find love. At first the book is a charming description of the immigrant experience through the eyes of the woman who has lost everything. then a newer immigrant, who may be lying, states something that changes everything for ou ...more
Emily
I started this book knowing that it would be sad in the beginning. I just didn't think that the entire book would be as depressing as it was! The main character Lillian, loses her whole family all at once, very sad. But once she is in America, she sleeps with EVERYONE she comes into contact with. Every other major character (characters who get names and end up getting their whole lives summed up in the book as well, which was another thing I didn't like), she ends up having sex with them. I was ...more
Debby
Jun 07, 2010 Debby rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
I considered giving this a 1, but truthfully it was only the last 1/4 of the book I didn't like. The rest of the book was OK.
This is a story about Lillian, a woman who flees Russia in early 1920's following a Russioan pagrom where her entire family is assumed to have been killed. Lillian becomes a "kept" woman by a Yiddish theater star and his father until she learns from another Russian immigrant that her daughter may still be alive and living in Siberia. The rest of the book involves Lillian'
...more
Becky
"Away" is a sad book. It's the story of Lillian Leyb, a Jewish immigrant who comes to New York after seeing her entire family violently murdered in their Russian village. When she discovers that her daughter may still be alive and in hiding in Siberia, she sets off to find her, literally crossing the globe on foot. She survives however she can: by befriending a superstar family in the New York theatre scene, by kissing up to the matron of a women's prison, by throwing in her lot with a rich pros ...more
Kara
Nov 24, 2007 Kara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who don't mind suspending disbelief to get to women's prison scenes
So, there are 74 reviews of this book, and the ones I read are pretty glowing. I didn't think it was bad, but it was incredibly strange. When you open up the first chapter and discover that you are reading about a Jewish immigrant to New York in the 1920s, it doesn't necessarily follow that she'll be murdering a pimp in Seattle a few chapters later, never mind getting a tattoo in a women's prison. I had to suspend a lot of disbelief for this one, and felt the ending was unsatisfying. Imagine get ...more
Sundry
Oh my gosh. My only fear about reviewing this book is that nothing can probably live up to your expectations if I tell you how much I love it. It is right up there with The History of Love.

It could be partly that I am always interested in stories about people who are not middle- or upper-class. Bloom's heroine Lillian is so unapologetically determined and realistic that you can't help but fall in love with her. She embodies what is probably the book's catch phrase, what one needs to do, one can
...more
Betsy
Nov 30, 2007 Betsy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one, alas
I thought this might be a keeper but I tired of it midway - it's the story of an Eastern European Jew who fled the pograms in the 1920s, surviving most of her family. Her odyssey in America - as she searches for her young daughter she thinks might still be alive - just didn't ring true, with too many underdeveloped characters, too much 21st-century-style depictions of sex, and too little insight into the main character's thinking. I struggled to finish - just so I could find out if Lillian found ...more
Book Concierge
Book on CD performed by Barbara Rosenblatt
3.5***

From the book jacket: Panoramic in scope, Away is the epic and intimate story of 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
...more
Jean
Jul 25, 2008 Jean rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jean by: Picked it up by accident at library
A new author for me and and I liked her a lot. Interesting approach in that she would often tell you the outcome during the travails of the character. A good summer read...about determination, courage, resiliency, the human spirit and love...all kinds. One of those where you always wonder how you would react yourself ...me, I'd probably just curl up in a ball and die of fright under any of those circumstances. Women are amazing! Men too, but women are REALLY amazing!!!
Jo
Life was busy and I carried this book around for weeks, barely opening it. Finally put the time aside and read it. It wasn't a believable story; the main character hadn't been developed enough for me to believe her long journey. Then, all of a sudden, the book was done, rather abruptly. It was as if the author's number of words or pages were up or her deadline was due and she wrapped it up and sent it in. Would have been nice to have wanted more, but I didn't.
Gayle Slagle
Amy Bloom's novel Away is riveting and will hold your interest from beginning to end. It tells the story of the moving and sometimes surprising life of the main character, Lillian Leyb. It begins with the arrival of Lillian in the United States, where she has come after the tragic killing of her family and the disappearance of her young daughter. Lillian is a very strong and resilient woman who somehow survives without complaint the many hardships that are thrown her way. Ms. Bloom is a master s ...more
Erika
Sex! Lies! Homosexuality! (Not the lesbian kind, Alfonso.) Anyway, I saw a lot of people who criticized Bloom for all of this. For what it's worth, I disagree.
Gretchen
It's the first abandonment of 2010! This was actually a 2009 Book club choice, and I finally got around to it in January. The story started out promising, with strong writing about a pogrom, and a young woman's emigration to America. The initial scenes depicting Lillian's arrival in New York, and adjustment to the new world were strong. But about 150 pages in, I realized I didn't care. I didn't care about her experiences in New York, or her travel across America. I liked the prostitute in Seattl ...more
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Amy Bloom is the author of "Come to Me," a National Book Award finalist; "A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You," nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; "Love Invents Us"; and "Normal." Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Short Stories, The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, and many other anthologies here and abroad. She has wri ...more
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Lucky Us A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You Where the God of Love Hangs Out Come to Me Love Invents Us

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“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.” 81 likes
“The past is a candle at great distance: too close to let you quit, too far to comfort you.” 38 likes
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