Away by Amy Bloom is a rare literary gem. The book boasts an apparently simple plotline rich with sophisticated and lush prose. The seemingly straightforward motivations of the main character, Lillian, lead both her and the reader on a journey fraught with difficult choices undertaken through the lens of Bloom’s keen understanding of the human heart and the dark places of the human psyche. The story opens with Lillian struggling through daily life in 1920’s New York City all the while yearning to find the daughter she had believed dead who instead turned out to be tragically lost. Lillian’s journey, while hopeful, takes many unfortunate turns revealing the dark and desperate lengths a mother will go to in search of her child. Where Lillian’s quest ultimately takes her physically and emotionally was a surprise to this reader and a pleasure, although many readers used to the neat wrap-ups and closure of most modern fiction may be taken aback by the unpredictable ending. The abruptness of the ending is reminiscent of Ann Patchett: the story is complete, but the lives of the characters are not over. Away is beautiful and, at times, painful, but well worth the journey.

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