After losing her family in a Russian pogrom, Lillian Leyb comes to America and talks her way into a job and the lives of some New York theater powerhouses. Intent only on survival, her focus is finding and maintaining stability--until word arrives that her young daughter, Sophie, may have survived the slaughter. Lillian then begins a journey across the United States, intent on returning to Siberia to find her daughter.
From New York to Seattle to the Alaskan wilderness, Lillian calls on wiles and a resourcefulness she never knew she had. This book was oddly affecting--not odd because of the subject matter, which is devastating, but because Lillian herself is written as somewhat detached. I found this a little uneven and I was impatient with some of the tracks of the story that felt like they had no connection to either Lillian's past or her goal. As a mother, the arc of the story hit me hard, but the execution of it didn't quite hit the mark.
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From the publisher’s description:
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 the Yiddish theater on New York’s Lower East Side, to Seattle’s Jazz District, and up to Alaska, along the fabled Telegraph Trail toward Siberia. All of the qualities readers love in Amy Bloom’s work – her humor and wit, her elegant and irreverent language, her unflinching understanding of passion and the human heart – come together in the embrace of this brilliant novel, which is at once heartbreaking, romantic, and completely unforgettable.