Cathy's Reviews > To the End of the Land

To the End of the Land by David Grossman
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's review
Jan 02, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: audiobook, israel

At the half way point I'm loving the book, but would greatly prefer an Israeli reader or a reader who could at least pronounce Hebrew words correctly. The whole tone of an Israeli voice is so different from an American's. Plus Moray, while a fine narrator in general (he did a great job with Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs) failed to learn the proper pronunciation of Hebrew words.

Nevertheless, I'm giving this a five because the book is so beautiful; such a complex tapestry of five people, Ilan, Avram and Ora who met at 16 while feverish from hepatitis in a hospital during the 67 war. Their lives continued together as they studied then joined the IDF and then Ora left to study social work. Then Avram and Ilan asked Ora to draw lots to see which one would go to the Sinai. Avram was selected to go and he was captured, tortured and finally released, a broken man. But their lives remained entwined as Ilan and Ora worked with him in rehab.

During Avram's rehab, Ora becomes pregnant with Adam. Following the birth Ilan leaves her, but eventually moves to the shed behind her house to be near her, but never seeing her. Eventually Ora becomes pregnant by Avram, giving birth to Ofer. Ilan returns and stays for 20 years.

The book begins as Ofer, who is to receive his discharge from the army, rushes back to join the campaign in Gaza. He and his mother were to have taken a hike in the Galilee to celebrate his release. The description of the ride down to the meeting point in the cab driven by her Arab friend is intense, her insensitivity and near hysteria at the thought of losing her son. The driver's tension and sweat at being put into this situation and Ofer's anger at his mother for doing this to him.

Then on a whim, Ora decides to leave for the Galillee and she goes to Tel Aviv and drags Avram out of his stupor into the cab and they are dropped off in the north. She does not want to be home when the army comes to tell her that her son has died. She wants to be a refusnik so as to prevent him from dying.

They walk and talk and think and she writes, mostly telling him about Ofer, but to do so, she starts with Adam and also their life as a family. They walk in cirles, up and down hills, for days. Sometimes there is a tedium, but I feel that is actually more from hearing it, that I would be more attentive reading it as the language is beautiful.

I decided to finish the book reading it. Amazing and powerful are the best way I can describe it. For a really good review go to for Colm Toibin's review in the NY Times.

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