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book review: "Away"...

Saturday, May 13, 2017
... written by Amy Bloom. I own this book, so will happily give it away. I'm thinking I bought it for nearly nothing, maybe at a 'fiction sale' by the Friends of Libraries when I was planning to travel and wanted something I could read and abandon when I got to the end. The Friends obviously get a lot of donations from people who want to recycle, cleaning out clutter, and willing to support the programming the library has ongoing. We all know how 'stuff' can take over, so I imagine even the storage space the people who run the little non-profit book store can be overwhelmed by well meaning patrons. If you want to read my book, you cannot return it to me.

I enjoyed it so much, "Away" traveled with me for several days. I carried it around, to be available to read a few pages in odd moments of down time, when I would be waiting and have a little space to get through a paragraph or two. About the hardships of a young woman who came from eastern Europe as an immigrant in the previous century, not speaking a word of English. Lillian witnessed the brutal scene of her entire family being killed before she left for the US. She got off the boat with: contact information for a relative who lived in New York City, a satchel of clothing, and a lot of hope. Found a job sewing, working for a pittance, started taking language classes, and eventually became independent.

In a bizarre twist, she became a mistress of a man who was an actor, involved in theatrical productions, and then found herself involved with this actor's father as well. A relative from eastern Europe appears and reports the young daughter she thought was dead had been seen, when she was taken by neighbors who were traveling to Russia. Desperate for her only child, Lillian decides to make her way across north America, hoping to get to Alaska, and find a boat to Siberia. The story of her travels across the US are no less grueling than you would imagine the trip from Europe to New York in steerage with other foreign nationals would be.

I kept reading, thinking "it has to get better", determined I should go with her, hoping to ease her struggles, desiring for her to encounter people with compassion who would want to help her along. The story is full of heartache, but written in a way that makes her many hardships seem realistically believable. Randomly chosen to read, but riveting enough to keep me coming back, wanting her to be reunited with her family, have peaceful resolution to her struggles.

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