Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “To the Edge of Sorrow” as Want to Read:
To the Edge of Sorrow
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

To the Edge of Sorrow

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  186 ratings  ·  48 reviews
From "fiction's foremost chronicler of the Holocaust" (Philip Roth), a haunting novel about an unforgettable group of Jewish partisans fighting the Nazis during World War II.

Battling numbing cold, ever-present hunger, and German soldiers determined to hunt them down, four dozen resistance fighters--escapees from a nearby ghetto--hide in a Ukrainian forest, determined t
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Schocken Books Inc
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  186 ratings  ·  48 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of To the Edge of Sorrow
Angela M
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while I wake up thinking about the book I finished the day before and sometimes it’s with a haunting feeling that makes me realize that it’s one I won’t forget and that I should have rated it higher . This is one of those books and this morning I decided this was definitely a five star book. Told through the eyes of a seventeen year old Edmund hiding in a Ukrainian forest with a small group of resistors, it’s a story of the atrocities of war. It’s a story of the holocaust even th ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Holocaust Remembrance Day. A group of partisians, hiding in a Ukraine forest, are determined to survive and help others survive as well. A young boy whose parents tell him to run as the Jews are being taken from the ghetto, find his way to the group hiding in the forest. it is through this group and others who come that we learn what is being done to the Jews in the villages.

A different viewpoint here as most of the story takes place within the camp and among the partisians. As horrible events
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Writing 5
Story line 5
Characters 5
Emotional impact 5

Overall rating 5
Kim Lockhart
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books-2020
This is an "against all odds" story of WWII Jewish resistance fighters. They're a small group, living under brutally difficult physical conditions. Yet in spite of their challenges, fears, and the relentless physical toll, each has crafted a way to keep from losing his or her humanity. It's that shared commitment to sanity and decency which keeps the group from splintering. They have only Jewishness in common, and most are far-removed from any spiritual ties to their grandparents' cultural tradi ...more
Fran Blake
May 06, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 This book had small moments that touched me, though it was written in a distant, unemotional style. I'm not sure if this is due to the translation &, unfortunately, I don't know Hebrew. Most of the sadness in the novel was already known to me. It is eerie to read about the resistance fighters raiding homes of Jewish people now occupied by Christians. The ease with which the new people inhabit someone else's space is still jarring, especially since the former owners have been deported to deat ...more
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To the Edge of Sorrow, is a profound book, in many aspects.

Appelfeld leaves nothing to the imagination, as far as word-imagery, illuminating not only the physical horrors, losses, and sorrows of war, but also the emotional perceptions, repressions, and ability to forge through each day, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.

Judaism is a central theme, within the pages, and how it’s education is part of the partisans’ daily ritual. Whether believers, or not, it is expected that the en
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Like Appelfeld’s other works which I have read To the Edge was anything but a lighthearted, ‘enjoyable’ read. Its inherently serious subject matter was underscored by the expertise with which he created it. As with his other novels his use of spare, direct prose got one directly to the heart of the immense struggles the characters were having. The insight and empathy with which their complex emotions were depicted was remarkable.

Without using the term PTSD the author demonstrated an impressive
Oct 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Moving story of Jewish partisans brigade in WWII. Took me some time to get to know the characters, but once I did developed a great appreciation for the mix of personalities ages and backgrounds of those who made up these fighting groups. It’s a personal story narrated by a young man and not illustrative of the broader war effort but there’s a lot of intention behind the personas that are described. Those who are more focused on action vs those who are about words, young and old, parents, childr ...more
Denise Levendoski
Thank you to Aharon Appelfeld and I won this book in a Giveaway.

This book takes you on an incredible journey through a couple of months time and makes you think about your actions and how you would do things differently. The main character of the book finally realizes his wrongs because of his own awareness and the scriptures that are being read. Spending time with yourself in reflection and others who may not share your opinion is truly food for thought for your soul.
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very powerful and moving as well as beautifully written. This is a story about Jewish partisans in the Ukraine during the second world war. How people find strength and humanity in times of war. It also highlights how brutal local citizens were to the Jews, often equal to the brutality of the Germans.
Sue Sansone
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing

The writer takes you into the very soul of the resistance fighters.
Mar 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
I wanted to love this book and I went in primed to do so. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre and WWII is my favorite niche. I love reading about the struggles and the triumphs and the underdog is my archetype of choice. I know that Appelfeld is meant to be the renowned author when it comes to chronicling the Holocaust through fiction, but this book just didn't do it for me.

The story was more of rediscovering or keeping faith rather than combatting evil. There didn't seem to be much detaile
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
In spartan prose with sparse plot, Appelfeld creates a novel about a group of brave, steadfast Jewish fighters in the Ukranian countryside who are working to save others and promulgate resistance to the German army. They raid the farms to get supplies for their band, trying to hold out until the Russians defeat the Germans. Despite the lack of suspense, these struggles are moving in a very quiet tone. Relationships dominate the partisans and philosophical religious debates occur among them. This ...more
Leora Wenger
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book of wishful thinking, survivor guilt, and disturbing memories amid calamity: a group of Jewish fighters, two Jewish children, and some industrious Jewish women work together in hiding toward the end of the war. How many Jews on trains can they save? Can learning one word of Hebrew per day strengthen one's resolve? Sadly, this is Appelfeld's last book, as he died in 2018. ...more
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've never heard of Appelfeld before but now I'll be reading all his books. This story was told in very simple language but he was able to convey complex feelings and thoughts. The story of community in the face of hate and death and destruction. Regrets and hopes and love. ...more
Lori Ensminger
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book was pretty boring. It’s basically just a bunch of random thoughts put together. No real story to get into.
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the 3rd Appelfeld novel I've read recently (in translation) and continue to be impressed by his astute observations of human behaviour and a writing style that, despite his emotionally-charged subject matter, does not indulge in sensationalism or melodrama. The author follows a group of young men and boys who are part of a small partisan unit in the Carpathian Mountains during the Holocaust and who dedicate themselves to derailing the Nazi trains transporting Jews to the death camps.

Susan Emmet
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'd not heard of Aharon Appelfeld, but found this Holocaust novel at the library ten months into the pandemic while thousands of people die daily.
Set in Ukraine and in the Carpathian Mountains, the story is narrated by Edmund who is burdened with guilt at the way he treated his parents as he took leave of them at a train station. They were taken to an unknown concentration camp and he escaped to a group of mainly Jewish partisans led by Kamil and Felix. The men and women and a few children take
Pep Bonet
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel-la, jueva, hebrea-il
Interesting book from an interesting writer. Appelfeld was born in Bukovina, presently Ukraine, but part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time. He spoke many languages, but his mother tongue was German, the language of culture of the Empire. That's what his mother spoke to him. But he couldn't write in German, especially a story about the WWWII. He learned Hebrew and wrote in Hebrew. Amazing. This choice of language certainly affects his writing, since you don't write the same in one langua ...more
Fran Hawthorne
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
For readers who find Aharon Appelfeld’s writing too metaphorical, this novel will be much more readable, because it’s rooted in the details of real life—in particular, the rugged life of a cadre of Jewish partisans in the Carpathian Mountains during World War II.

Appelfeld (who died two years ago) no doubt drew on his own experiences with Ukrainian partisans for his vivid, multisensory descriptions of the cold, the muck, the limited food, and the comradeship.

Even better than the descriptions are
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Told from the point of view of Edmund, a young teen who escapes at the bidding of his parents as they are boarding a train to be transported to German prison camps, this story is about the Jewish escapees from the ghettos who have banded together to fight German forces in the Ukraine. They have nothing. They must go on raids to even get the food they require to survive, let alone weapons and ammunition to protect themselves. At times, they are holding their guns on those who would normally be ne ...more
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
The title itself, To the Edge of Sorrow, is brilliant and so appropriate for this heart-wrenching novel. The depths of the protagonist’s grief and devastation was on full display for us to witness and experience.

The novel is set during the Holocaust and the characters are living as partisan fighters in the Ukrainian forest. Most affecting is the protagonist’s guilt and shame over his irrevocably damaged relationship with his parents and how he realizes he will never have opportunity to repair i
Apr 03, 2020 added it
I'm not sure how to rate this book so I'm not going to. I'm, well, puzzled by it. And a bit frustrated - when I reflect on the characters, the themes touched upon, I feel there was so, so much here that should have moved me a great deal, yet didn't. The writing struck me as odd, oddly formal. I have not read Aharon Appelfeld before so perhaps this is a hallmark of his writing I was simply unable to appreciate. I do feel this may have been what kept me from feeling much of anything for the main c ...more
Mary Licking
Partisans in the Ukranian forest and mountains trying to sabotage Nazi trains, but mostly trying to keep Jews alive until the end of WWII. How they kept their own group together and humming is a lot of the story. They recognized that everyone in the group, no matter the age or the condition, had a contribution to make to their overall well-being, either physical or emotional. They reminded themselves of their vision multiple times daily. They did not waver in pursuing what they needed to keep bo ...more
Mark Lisac
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rounded up reluctantly to 4 stars from 3.5, mostly because I thought the first-person narration by the 17-year-old character Edmund felt spot on; his voice nicely captured both the thinking of a youth emerging into adulthood, and the way that someone writing a journal might record observations of daily occurrences. I also liked the way that Appelfeld incorporated widely differing points of view within the partisans' camp and within the broader surrounding Ukrainian society. I disliked the way th ...more
A moving novel about Jewish fighters in WWII who rescued Jews from death trains. it's much much more than that, however, because Appelfeld was a writer whose words had deeper meaning than what appeared on the page. In a way it reminds me of Arnost Lustig, another Holocaust writer.
I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to know how partisans lived and fought, and how they were treated by the outside community.
David Margolis
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written and heart-wrenching story about of band of Jewish partisans surviving on a mountain top in Ruthenia (a pre-war country that existed between Hungary and Ukraine). Some of them are Communists, some are religious, some agnostic but they all have one thing in common: they're being persecuted because they're Jews, each one has their story to tell and Applefeld does it masterfully. This is a great read. ...more
Doris  Fine
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A memorable read. Appelfeld captures the narrator's growing awareness of his selfishness and failure to honor his parents as he joins a group of partisans devoted to saving those Jews sent to death camps. He learns from them what it means to be a member of a community devoted to doing good, preserving life and finding fulfillment despite the pain and sorrow of loss. It is through sorrow and death that he learns to value life and to regret his youthful actions dishonoring his parents. ...more
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If there were a ten star rating, that is how I would have rated this novel. Although the subject matter is grim, Appelfeld's great talent and his depiction of people, of varying religious and philosophical views, who work together for the common good, and retain their compassion, determination, and intellectual life, is awe inspiring. ...more
Marilee Steffen
Jul 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Barely able to escape from a ghetto, 4 dozen escapees hide in the Ukrainian forest, determined to survive the war. The German Army is retreating, chased by the Red Army, but the Germans are determined to eliminate all Jews, even when they are in retreat. The Jewish group of partisans is dedicated to rescuing as many Jews as they can from trains headed to the death camps.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Clockmaker's Daughter
  • Beloved
  • Moving On
  • Pride of Eden
  • Why Liberalism Failed
  • The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss
  • The Art of Regret: A Novel
  • House on Endless Waters
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
  • The Witches Are Coming
  • This Is Not How It Ends
  • Mr. Churchill's Secretary (Maggie Hope Mystery, #1)
  • The Island of Sea Women
  • The Yellow House
  • The Teacher
  • Inland
  • Left Neglected
See similar books…
AHARON APPELFELD is the author of more than forty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Until the Dawn's Light and The Iron Tracks (both winners of the National Jewish Book Award) and The Story of a Life (winner of the Prix Médicis Étranger). Other honors he has received include the Giovanni Bocaccio Literary Prize, the Nelly Sachs Prize, the Israel Prize, the Bialik Prize, the Independent Fo ...more

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
14 likes · 2 comments