To the End of the Land by David Grossman
Synopsis: Ora is all set to go on an extended hiking/camping trip with her beloved younger son, Ofer, before he heads back to his military duties. When Ofer decides to return to the war sooner than expected, Ora decides to set out on her planned trip anyway, and recruits her long-lost friend (and love) Avram as her new travel partner. Though Avram has become a shell of the man he used to be since he returned from his tour with the army, Ora is hopeful that their trip will bring him back – and maybe rekindle that flame between them that once existed.
Thoughts: First of all, good lord that was long. And to add insult to injury, most of the chapters were over 50 pages long. And then to pour salt in the wound (I’m on a roll here!!) Grossman uses some of the most flowery-detailed-lengthy sentences I’ve encountered in a very long time. Clearly, this wasn’t exactly an easy book to get through. But the story itself kept me relatively interested, so I powered through.
I have some pretty mixed feelings about this book, and it’s not just because of those oh-so-lengthy chapters. I thought Grossman created some amazing characters – he clearly took careful steps towards ensuring they were fully developed. As the plot unfolds, we are exposed to some pretty below-the-surface stuff that resides within both Ora and Avram. And Grossman’s attention to character development allows us to better understand their actions (which otherwise may seem a tad nonsensical).
I think my main qualm lies in the trajectory of the plot. In trying to have us really understand these characters, Grossman seemed to forget that the plot line should follow, well…a line (not a straight line, but a line nonetheless). The story overall was quite enjoyable, but there were far too many tangents that didn’t seem to add anything to the book (other than numerous pages).
Overall Grade: B
Up Next: The Dinner by Herman Koch