Away, Amy Bloom, Random House Inc, 2007, 235 pp
Man! This book was amazing. I love it when I open a book, hopeful as always of a good read, and just get ambushed by such unexpected power of writing and uniqueness of tale.
Lillian Leyb is a young mother in a tiny Russian Jewish village when an attack by anti-Semitic neighbors kills almost everyone including Lillian's parents and husband. Her four year old daughter Sophie disappears.
That was in 1923. A year later Lillian arrives in New York City to live with a cousin. Then she learns on the immigrant grapevine that Sophie is alive and possibly in Siberia. She begins a journey across America, up to Alaska and intends to cross the Bering Straight into Siberia.
The characters in this story are completely human examples of the variety of beingnesses found on earth. Lillian's misadventures are myriad and her pluck is endless. She lives on love and a refusal to succumb to loss. This is extreme adventure, as described by Lynne Sharon Schwartz in Ruined by Reading, but it is the male and female types combined into one character.
The emotional impact of the story is huge and stayed with me for hours, days really, maybe forever.