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To the End of the Land

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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  6,133 ratings  ·  908 reviews
From one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers comes a novel of extraordinary power about family life—the greatest human drama—and the cost of war.

Ora, a middle-aged Israeli mother, is on the verge of celebrating her son Ofer’s release from army service when he returns to the front for a major offensive. In a fit of preemptive grief and magical thinking, she sets out for a hi
...more
Hardcover, 581 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by Vintage Books (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  6,133 ratings  ·  908 reviews


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Elyse  Walters
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
This book was WONDERFUL


UPDATE: 5 years later: *August 2015*

A friend 'Liked' this review yesterday. My body felt frozen - I had to remember to breath.
Honestly, I have never been more 'shocked' -'frozen' with an ending to a book than this one. I was a mess. It was not a happy ending--but I still had no idea --NONE --of what I was about to discover.
I was devastated. At first I couldn't move --then I cried -then I couldn't move some more.

I remember at some point going up to the trails, alone, for
...more
Mariel
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the dream has gone but the baby is real
Recommended to Mariel by: she could have been a poet or she could have been a fool
Shelves: my-love-life
(Sorry for the reposting and then taking down and then reposting. This book I feel I owe something to...)

You cannot point out a star to someone without putting your other hand on his shoulder.

David Grossman wrote To The End Of The Land while his second eldest son was serving in the military. He wrote the novel as if doing so would protect him. It didn't save his life. The quote from the New York Times Book Review on the cover says "One of those few novels that feels as though they have made a d
...more
Marc
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
At first I struggled a bit with this book: it took me more than 80 pages to get into the story, but what followed after that was unparalleled and heart breaking. Why did I love this book?

1. With Ora as his protagonist Grossman has sketched a "big", primeval woman: mother, lover, mistress at the same time. That sounds silly and of course very gender-coloured, I know, but this character really captivated me. Ora is powerful, hypersensitive, very obsessed with life, but often also very weak, blind,
...more
Chrissie
Dec 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Chrissie by: New Yorker
ETA: I better add this. If you are looking for a sweet pat ending look elsewhere. This book does not have a fairy tale ending.

I absolutely LOVE this book. Add some explosion claps.

I have read about half. THIS is a love story. What kind of love? Love for your child, your first and your second. Love for your partner in life. Husband or someone else, doesn't matter. There is a really weird triangle love relationship, but the further and further I go into the book the more it all makes sense. A
...more
Elaine
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I really struggled with this one, and to a certain extent I feel like I am giving four stars because respect must be paid, to Grossman as a novelist at the height of his powers using all his craft to create a formally perfect and emotionally searing masterpiece, to Grossman as a father who somehow managed to take some small piece of his loss and transform it into art, to Grossman as a rational thinking caring man in a place where rationality and caring are at best perilously endangered.

And so r
...more
Gumble's Yard
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Tale by Israeli author, ant-settlement protester whose son was killed in the army shortly before he finishes the book.

The story is far from flawless: the first 50 pages are incoherent (supposedly representing the fever of the three characters which is itself a metaphor for the war fever of Israel but it makes this piece unreadable); clunky in structure with the first 50 pages followed by a whole subplot about Ora and her family’s Palestinian driver Sami (she unthinkingly gets him to drive Ofer
...more
Celia
David Grossman, one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers, has written a novel of extraordinary power about family life—the greatest human drama—and the cost of war.

Three people meet in 1967, with injuries suffered in the Six Day War.

Thirty three years later there is another war and the son of Ora has served his time but re-enlists. She leaves her home because she does not want to be there if THEY come (THEY would tell her that her son has been killed). She decides to leave home for a month-long hi
...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I actually wanted to re-read the ending before I wrote this review, I did and although it is not your proverbial happy ending, it is so very fitting. When one reads a book like this, a book that I would probably never had picked up unless one of my goodread friends had been reading it and just posting how much she was loving this book. It is so wonderful when this site does just these kind of things.

This book is one that I will probably think about for a long time. We first meet the three main c
...more
Natalie
Nov 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am in Paris, and have been in Berlin and Barcelona for 3 weeks before that.

I have bought SO many books, and visited the best bookstores in the world: two of which were in Berlin.

Today I went to Shakespeare and co, and got some contemporary French translations, so I need to plough through this so I can get started on the 15 other books im lugging around from my trip purchases. Hard to carry for 7 weeks!

.........

Just finished this an I am too emotional to write about it a) because the book total
...more
Helen
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I've read on what it means to live in Israel.

I’m not the first to write that To the End of the Land is a shattering, soul-changing book. While Mr. Grossman was working on the manuscript, his son Uri was called up to serve in Operation Cast Lead. He was killed as he attempted to rescue another group of soldiers. Grief and loss haunt every page.

For three years, Ora has been anxiously awaiting her son Ofer’s discharge from the Israeli army. Together, they’ve been pla
...more
Sheri
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
What this book could have been like with a decent editor! I read it on my Kindle, so I have no idea how many printed pages it was, but it felt like the reading equivalent of the Bataan Death March. And since so much of the narrative unfolds during a hike across Israel by two of the main characters, the comparison to the Bataan Death March felt pretty apt. Which isn't to say there aren't things to like about this book. The accounts of the events of the lives of the 2 sons from birth through child ...more
Laura
Dec 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What an entrancing introduction to the work of acclaimed, progressive Israeli novelist David Grossman, whose son died fighting in the conflict with Lebanon in 2006. Though Grossman wrote much of this novel before that tragedy, it fully informs and casts its shadow over the narrative. Grossman, in a sense, had been writing the book to protect his son, just as his protagonist Ora goes on a desperate hike with her former lover in the Galilee to avoid any bad news related to her son, Ofer (who must ...more
Sally
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. I think one of the main reasons is that I have read so many based in the UK or USA and therefore reading this book was a refreshing change. It may seem odd to use the word refreshing considering the subject matter but I found that too was refreshing or rather the way in which it was presented. This book was challenging in a good way it was also confronting at times in a gentle rather than brutal way, it was also joyous and saddening. The writing made me feel l ...more
Julie
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, fiction, vine
Despite Nicole Krauss’s ridiculously glowing review, I never felt this book was powerful, shattering or unflinching. Ora is a middle-aged Israeli mother of two who flees to the Galilean countryside when her youngest son Ofer volunteers for combat in a conflict taking place in 2000. She is desperate to escape any news of the battle and her son’s fate, so she brings an old friend Avram along with her on a trek through the wilderness. The entire novel is basically Ora’s reflection on her son, her f ...more
Stephen Durrant
Sep 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I feel a bit guilty about not having become more absorbed in this novel. Several of my friends, whose taste in literature I respect, felt Grossman's "To the End of the Land" was the best thing since sliced bread (since I have started spending time in France, this expression baffles me--was sliced bread really a step forward? Anyway . . . ) . It was for me slow and even at times tedious. The premise is enticing. A young Israeli, who has already fulfilled his compulsory military service, volunteer ...more
Sarah
Nov 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This may be one of the best books I've ever read. No, that seems to contain some doubt. This IS one of the most amazing books I've ever read. I have been sleep deprived for a week because I could not put it down until long after exhaustion set in. It is set in Isreal (it's translated from Hebrew) and is about Ora, whose son's military service is extended a month just as a campaign against Lebanon begins. Ora makes a pact, a deal, where if the notifiers can't find her, then her son can't die-- so ...more
Lauren
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is like getting a punch in the gut. I have a feeling the answer to relationships, family or romantic, lies somewhere deep within the pages of this book. The power of the mind isn't in magical thinking to prevent death [but who hasn't made a bargain in their mind for something they really don't want to happen] but in destroying relationships or deceiving ourselves.

The underlining current I keep coming back to is where Avram gave up on himself and forced Ilan to take all the things he co
...more
Judy
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I've been wanting to read this book ever since it came out three years ago. I kept putting it off and finally formed the world's smallest possible reading group with one other person, a woman from one of my regular reading groups. We set a date to discuss it and encouraged each other along. I am so glad we did that.

Ruth is Jewish and has visited Israel twice. She is the mother of two grown sons, as am I. We met for lunch and talked about the book for three hours!

To The End Of The Land is about
...more
Sara
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sara by: Elyse Walters
Shelves: literary-fiction
I keep taking deep breaths trying to figure out how to say and what to say about this book. It is heavy throughout, without any comic relief or lifts; it is wrenching, soul-searching, life-affirming. It hurts so much sometimes that I needed to set it aside and take breathers and remind myself that this was not happening to me, although when this happens in the world it happens to us all. It is unimaginable and yet 100% possible and real. I walked every mile of this journey in Ora's shoes.

My love
...more
Lisa Lieberman
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-interest
Terribly beautiful. I've admired Grossman's work for years, but I've felt that he always stopped short of exploring the full extent of the situations he describes, whether in his journalism or his fiction. This book shatters the glass wall and at times it was so painful to read that I had to put it down, but everything was rendered so exquisitely that I had to keep reading.
Tuck
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
an absolutely necessary novel and if you didn't believe in Grossman before, this will absolutely convince you he is one of the best writers today.
Lowry
Dec 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was at a Bar Mitzvah, standing around with drink in hand, when someone I only see at Bar Mitzvahs told me about this book with the kind of passion and conviction that made me sure I wanted to read it. (And I typically resist reading any book I'm told I must read.) She was right. In recent years I don't read as many novels as I once did, and it perhaps matters more, therefore, when reading one really seems to have made a difference. When I ask myself if I've read anything that might one day be ...more
Lauren
Jul 30, 2010 added it
This is another, like Next, that is impossible to rate. It's part genius, part indulgence, and it rambles on, amassing detail after detail, some fascinating, some not so, until the last 50 pages in which the writing grows sharper, deeper, more thoughtful, and the plot, such as it is, becomes even more gripping.

Ora is celebrating her son's release from army service when he decides to rejoin. In a fit of magical thinking, she takes off for an extended walk through the Gallilee reasoning that if s
...more
Katherine
Apr 18, 2011 rated it liked it
My reactions to this book are all over the map, as it were. Part of the time I was quite annoyed with the characters and the author. Some of the dialogue (and perhaps this is just because it's in translation) seemed stilted and improbable to me. (Who doesn't wish they could go back and have the perfect conversation with an ex-lover where they neatly sum everything up and get to go on and on about their life since the breakup in mundane detail? And for those who do wish that - what the heck is wr ...more
David M
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel has been praised by commentators of all stripes, from the odious Jeffrey Goldberg to the righteous Gideon Levy. I'd like to concur that it is in fact a beautiful work of art. Politically, David Grossman seems to consider himself something of a liberal Zionist (an oxymoron in my opinion, but never mind that for now); this is very far from a didactic book, however. I'd even say its wisdom exceeds the opinions of its author. Grossman has no particular case to make here. Mostly this is a ...more
Monica Carter
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: btba

They sit quietly, digesting. Ora hugs her knees, rationalizing that she isn't all that accessible and permeable even to herself anymore, and that even she herself doesn't go near that place inside of her. It must be that she's growing old, she decides--for some time now she's had a strange eagerness to pronounce her aging, impatient for the relief that comes with a declaration of total bankruptcy. That's how it goes. You say goodbye to yourself even before other people start to, softening the b
...more
Daniel Chaikin
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This comes from a terrific book recommendation I got at a bookstore in Tel Aviv back in February. The bookstore clerk turned me away from the latest Amos Oz and even the award winning latest Grossman and pointed me to this (and a couple others).

I loved this book even as I struggled to read more than about ten pages a sitting (at almost 600 pages, that's a lot of sittings). The language is somehow very intense, always. He delves into the psychology of always-at-war Israel, specifically from the
...more
Mary Soderstrom
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Two State, One State: The Dilemma of Israel and Palestine in Two Books

The New York Times carried a very interesting essay earlier this week by Anthony Lerman, "The End of Liberal Zionism." This summer's war in Gaza underscores the difficulties Jews who embrace liberal values have with the coalition of right wing and theologically pure interests which now hold sway in Israel. I've invited my liberal Jewish friends to comment on Facebook, but so far I have no input from them.

So I've returned to t
...more
Jeffrey Cohan
Dec 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: israel, 2010
It is hard enough to review, or critique, the work of a highly accomplished author without thinking, “Who am I to opine?”

And it is exponentially even harder when the book in question closely reflects a tragic loss in the author’s personal life.

So I’m a little uncomfortable, even pained, to say that I cannot recommend David Grossman’s epic Israeli novel, “To the End of the Land.”

The novel focuses on two very well-drawn characters: Ora, a middle-aged mother whose son has a dangerous job in the Isr
...more
Joyce
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
To the End of the Land by David Grossman is a very powerful novel set in the nation of Israel. In this novel, Ora,the mother of 2 sons, decides to go on a hike in the Galilee area after her younger son Offer volunteers for an additional 28 days of service in the Israeli Army. She fears that he will be killed and decides that she will not be home in case officials come to tell her he has been killed. In her mind, she has convinced herself that if she is not home to be informed, then he will be sa ...more
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From ithl.org:

Leading Israeli novelist David Grossman (b. 1954, Jerusalem) studied philosophy and drama at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and later worked as an editor and broadcaster at Israel Radio. Grossman has written seven novels, a play, a number of short stories and novellas, and a number of books for children and youth. He has also published several books of non-fiction, including int
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