Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review: Away by Amy Bloom

Away by Amy Bloom
My rating: 4 stars

All in all, this was not an easy book to read. But, it was still a wonderful book that I really enjoyed. The journey to that enjoyment was not necessarily easy. The novel is epic in scope and completely and utterly unique and memorable. But, it was not easy by any means. I found the prose to be challenging for some reason. At times so amazingly beautiful that I didn't want to stop reading and other times it felt jumpy and all over the place. That was a difficult dichotomy that I felt over and over throughout the reading of the novel. In many ways, it felt a bit like it was a number of short stories (similar to the way Olive Kitteridge is a novel of short stories) that wrapped around one single woman. Yet, there were moments that I was frustrated with Bloom's writing style.

Yet, the novel was saved for me by the story and the characters. They were memorable and interesting and compelling. I'm stealing from another reviewer who said the following which totally encapsulates how I feel about this book - "almost all of the characters in Away are seriously flawed human beings, but she paints such vivid portraits of these characters' inner lives and complex pasts that I couldn't help but have sympathy for all of them and admire more than a few of them."

I really enjoyed reading about the various places Bloom described in the novel such as 1920's New York, Seattle's skid row and the Canadian frontier. Amazing. And I loved how she used a series of 'peeks' into the future throughout the narrative, ultimately letting the reader see into the future and learn what happens to all of the characters we meet along the way. I thought this was a wonderful technique and really made me feel all the more invested in the novel.

I really liked this book a lot but also felt it was hard to read at times. I struggled with the rating but ultimately feel that the book as a whole deserves 4 stars despite its flaws.

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