Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book 67: Away

Away by Amy Bloom

While I'd read the backflap of the cover, and knew that eventually the protagonist, Lillian, was going to go on a trip across the United States, I was enjoying the first third to half of the book about her new life in New York, describing her struggles and luck as she started over in a new country. I actually got to the point where I'd much rather continue reading that kind of story then have to watch her leave everything at the faint hope of finding her daughter. And the novel got so much less exciting once she left - first off, I guess I didn't quite understand her strong motivation since I'm not a mother, but also just how unlikely and impossible it would have been for her to find her daughter even if she had still been alive. I guess I'm too rational. With that, I also don't see how Lillian could have made such a large impression that people reacted to her departure the way they did.

Once Lillian leaves, she becomes harder to relate to, and I don't mean that due to her motivations - it just seems like she is not as well written or developed while she's traveling as she was in New York. Some of the people she meets on the road are definitely interesting, such as the ambitious and determined prostitute Gumdrop, and the con artist Chinky, but during those parts of the story I actually preferred them to Lillian which probably isn't a good sign for a novel. However, in a way, the scenarios in which Lillian meets these people are almost too far fetched, and it feels like they shouldn't necessarily be in this novel.

And finally, the very end was sweet, but the way it got to that just seemed a little off to me - once again, probably because I'm too cynical for the love at first sight thing. It's not necessarily what Bloom was trying to portray, and two lonely people's need for each other is definitely understandable but after Lillian's focus throughout the rest of the novel, it just seems like she let go rather quickly at this point.

Parts of it were definitely well written but the author tried to throw in too many different oddball elements and the characters weren't always that convincing. If I get bored, I might give this author another shot, but probably not anytime soon.

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