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To the End of the Land Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 21, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: To the End of the Land is a book of mourning for those not dead, a mother's lament for life during a wartime that has no end in sight. At the same time, it's joyously and almost painfully alive, full to the point of rupture with the emotions and the endless quotidian details of a few deeply imagined lives. Ora, the Israeli mother in Grossman's story, is surrounded by men: Ilan and Avram, friends and lovers who form with her a love triangle whose intimacies and alliances fit no familiar shape, and their sons Adam and Ofer, one for each father, from whom Ora feels her separation like a wound. When Ofer, freshly released from his army service, volunteers for an action in the West Bank instead of going on a planned hike with his mother in the north of Israel, she goes instead with Avram, who fathered Ofer but has never met him and has lived in near-seclusion since being tortured as a prisoner in the Yom Kippur war three decades before. As they walk and carefully reveal themselves to each other again, Grossman builds an overwhelming portrait of, as one character says, the "thousands of moments and hours and days" that make "one person in the world," and of the power of war to destroy such a person, even--or especially--when they survive its cruel demands. --Tom Nissley

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Acclaimed Israeli author Grossman serves up a powerful meditation on war, friendship, and family. Instead of celebrating her son Ofer’s discharge from the Israeli Army, Ora finds her life turned upside down and inside out when he reenlists and is sent back to the front for a major offensive. Unable to bear the thought of sitting alone waiting for the “notifiers” to bring her bad news, the recently separated Ora decides to hike in the Galilee, where she will be both anonymous and inaccessible. Joined by her estranged best friend and former lover Avram, a recluse who never recovered from the brutality he experienced as a POW during the Yom Kippur War, she narrates the story of her doomed marriage to Ilan and her often arduous journey as a mother. As the tension mounts, she talks compulsively about Ofer, as if telling his story will protect him and keep him alive for both herself and for Avram, the biological father he has never met. As Ora and Avram travel back and forth through time via shared memories, the toll exacted by living in a land and among a people constantly at war is excruciatingly evident. Grossman, whose own son was killed during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, writes directly from the heart in this scorching antiwar novel. --Margaret Flanagan

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307592979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307592972
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
David Grossman's new book, in hebrew titled Isha Borachat M'besora, translates literally as "A Woman Escaping From a Message." In Israel, the connotation of the word besora (message) acutely depicts the nightmare that the book's protagonist, Ora, is trying to escape: soldiers knocking at her door at 3 a.m. with the besora that her son has been killed in war.

The catalyst for Oras journey - outlined in many other reviews here, is her attempt to escape her greatest fear, what she describes as the "nationalization" of her family--that Israel is coming to claim her son's life. Ofer was hers for twenty years, and now Ora must pay her dues.

Israel is a country that historically has dictated the nationalization of private emotions. It is a country where the culture of remembrance unifies and takes ownership over the dead. We - Israelis - mourn the loss of "our" fallen, and say kaddish (a prayer for the dead) for "our" sons. Society becomes a grieving "family," known in Hebrew as Mishpachat Hashchol. Publicly expressed grief becomes the language of the masses and the soundtrack of the nation.

Very few books in Israeli literature have so bravely dealt with the looming fear of death that surrounds Israeli society. Grossman does this so vehemently that it is hard to separate his bravery as an author from his bravery as a father who lost a son in the Second Lebanon War while writing this book. His message is unequivocal: the cost of living in Israel is that society is slowly losing its sense of normality.

Grossman spared no detail or emotion when he wrote this book. He did not leave one wound untouched or one fear forgotten. He evokes sadness in the reader, because the novel forces one to realize, at times, how abnormal life can be in Israel.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ora, an Israeli mother, planned a Galilee backpacking trip with her youngest son, Ofer, to celebrate the end of his army conscription. But, like a fist through her soul, he signed up for a major offensive, another twenty-eight days. Barely holding her sanity together--her husband, Ilan, has trekked off to Bolivia with her oldest son, Adam--she flees from her fear of the "notifiers" (the government officials who deliver grave news) and leaves, anyway, sans cell phone and contact access.

Ora pleads with her reclusive old friend and former lover, Avram, erstwhile best friend to Ilan, to accompany her to the Galilee. She believes that, with Avram, they can form a thread that ties them to the land, to nature, to safety, to Ofer, and weave a tapestry that protects him from peril. With Avram, she can magically keep Ofer alive. No one else can extinguish bad thoughts and assist her to defy fate.

"...she was always easy with Avram, letting him see all of her, almost from the first moment she met him, because she had a feeling, a conviction that there was something inside her, or someone, perhaps an Ora more loyal to her own essence, more precise and less vague, and Avram seemed to have a way to reach her."

Years ago, Avram and Ilan were soldiers together, and the story explains how Avram lost his artistic spirit and love of words and suffered permanent damage and a death of the soul. As they hike, climb and acclimate to the wild terrain, Ora recapitulates the story of her family--the details of raising her sons and her forsaken marriage to Ilan. The germination and withering of the friendship between Ora, Avram, and Ilan is recounted in flashbacks and threaded into her story as a wife and mother.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I finished To the End of the Land by David Grossman it was very difficult to review. Too many reviewers begin with plot summaries and those become tiresome after a while, especially when the plot itself is tiresome, so I avoid its retelling here. Although I did find the plot tedious, that is not to say it is without quality or intelligence. The plot is unique and masterfully written but the narrative structure which drives the plot, a narrative within a narrative, was for this reader arduous and exhausting.

On the whole this novel did not work for me but I cannot say that I did not like the book. There are aspects of its 600 pages that really engaged me and I found deeply poignant and valuable. However, I believe less is more in literature and that creative expression is much more exquisite and impressive with an economy of words. The overindulgence in the psyche of To the End of the Land's main character, a middle-aged Israeli woman named Ora, is overwrought and causes the pacing of the novel to falter. Any dramatic tension in the plot seems to get overwhelmed or even lost in the author's prolonged verbosity.

The novel does have its arresting moments of beautiful eloquence and stunning imagery but it is strenuous reading to find those hidden literary gems. They are buried deep within Ora's stream-of-consciousness inner dialogues and contemplative programming which are dull, repetitious and tedious. I felt trapped and suffocated inside Ora's head. Nor could I warm up to her character. I found her too narrow, too self-absorbed, too boring.
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