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3.37  ·  Rating details ·  10,712 ratings  ·  1,965 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
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published August 21st 2007)
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Eve The ending is unusual in that we would normally expect a resolution in which Lillian is reunited with Sophie. But no, she didn’t. I listened to the au…moreThe ending is unusual in that we would normally expect a resolution in which Lillian is reunited with Sophie. But no, she didn’t. I listened to the audiobook and can’t easily go back to Lillian’s reference to reading to Sophie, but I think that was in her imagination. Perhaps going on such a difficult journey was Lillian’s way of dealing with the trauma of losing her. It gave her life and purpose. But getting to Siberia by boat, by herself was a crazy idea, there’s no way she could have done that. Her relationship with John gave her family again, and maybe that’s what she needed.

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Average rating 3.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,712 ratings  ·  1,965 reviews

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Doug Bradshaw
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
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
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Connie G
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Lillian Leyb had to create a new life for herself in America after her Jewish family was slaughtered in a Russian pogrom in 1924. She started as a seamstress at a New York Yiddish theater. When she receives the news that her young daughter Sophie might still be alive in Siberia, she undertakes a rail trip across America, then heads north to Alaska. She plans to cross the Bering Strait to find her daughter.

This is a tale of endurance where Lillian has to make hard choices in order to sur
"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
Oct 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 08, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: auth-f, x2020-read
This book has been on my bookshelf for many years, and has been through a few moves. I finally decided that it was time I cracked it open.
I liked the opening of the story, as main character Lillian Leyb arrives in New York City in 1924 from Russia, after her Jewish family is massacred by their neighbours in a pogrom. The way Lillian finds her footing in a totally unfamiliar environment was interesting reading. Then, she hears from a cousin that her young daughter, long thought dead, was actually
Sep 28, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 23, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good book to kick off my 2016 Book Challenge

I'm glad to be off to a good start with this book. I'm a little surprised that I ended up liking this much as I did. It definitely wasn't what I thought it was going to be and I'm glad it was much more. It took me a little while to get the feel of the writing style. At first I was a bit thrown off but then began to actually like it. Also I feel like as the book progressed the writing, the story, the characters became better and better.

This is ki
May 23, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, book-club
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
Jun 18, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
See my last comment as my review. I guess I was new to GR at the time. ; )
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like stories of immigration, reinvention, and quests
Amy Bloom's novel grabbed me from the very beginning and elicited a mixture of emotions including, "Damm. Why can't I write like this?" It's the story of Lillian Leyb's journey through many worlds in the United States of the 20's--the Yiddish theatre scene in New York, the back alleys of Seattle, an "Agrarian Work Center for Women," and the wilds of Alaska. Lillian came to New York after her parents, husband, and daughter were killed in Russia; she thought never to return there until she recieve ...more
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  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'
Nov 24, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, 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!!! ...more
Pam Jenoff
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all-time favorite books about Lillian,a woman who comes to the U.S. after her world is destroyed in a pogrom. Upon discovering that her young daughter might have survived, Lillian tries to make her way across America to Siberia to find her. An epic historical illumination and unforgettable heart-breaker -- brilliant!
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A bold and beautiful, harrowing tale of endurance and maternal love. Lilian, a Russian Jew, survives a 20s pogrom that kills her family, and emigrates to USA, only to try and make it back to Siberia when she hears her daughter has actually survived. To do so she is at the mercy of the people she meets along the way, and, although much hardship, sex-for-food or passage, disease, hunger and poverty is endured, the people, once they have got what they want from her, are often surprisingly supportiv ...more
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
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, 2014, pilgrimage
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
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sharon Huether
Lillian travels the world to find her daughter Sophia. She encounters many bizzare events on her journey. The author uses a lot of imagination in her stories within stories .
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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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