To the Edge of Sorrow, by Aharon Appelfeld, is a profound book, in many aspects.
Appelfeld leaves nothing to the imagination, as far as word-imagery, illuminating not only the physical horrors, losses, and sorrows of war, but also the emotional perceptions, repressions, and ability to forge through each day, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.
Jewish partisans struggle from hunger, extreme cold temperatures, living in trenches, life on the run, living in a Ukrainian forest, during World War II. They are adamant about fighting the Nazis.
Judaism is a central theme, within the pages, and how it’s education is part of the partisans’ daily ritual. Whether believers, or not, it is expected that the entire group participates, because their leader is determined that morality will survive the horrors thrust upon them.
Through this daily aspect, some of the group are able to cope better, with their difficult situation. Others are impacted more emotionally, causing them to reflect on their life, their loved ones, the comforts of home. The effects, and how each person is affected, is important in the context of the group, as a whole.
The story, with its characters, and depictions, still lingers within me, and will, for quite some time. It is one of those books, that for me, is difficult to let go of.
I have been an avid reader of Aharon Appelfeld’s books. Sadly, this was his last one, as he died in 2018.