The Immortalists

The Immortalists

Book - 2018
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It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children--four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness--sneak out to hear their fortunes. Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality. The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.
Publisher: New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780735213180
Branch Call Number: BENJAMI
Characteristics: 346 pages ; 24 cm


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Michael Colford Mar 21, 2018

Chloe Benjamin's debut is an interesting Jewish family drama about four siblings who as children, visit a local fortune teller who tells each of them the date of their death. After this opening prologue, the book follows the lives of each of the siblings, from the youngest to the oldest. Simon moves to San Francisco with his sister and discovers his life as a gay man and a dancer in the dawn of the AIDS epidemic. Klara seeks out the West Coast to become a stage magician. Daniel settles down and marries in upstate New York, and Varya leads a solitary life as a medical researcher.

Each of their stories is compelling and fairly haunting, and a shroud of sadness does permeate the entire novel. The writing is quite lovely, and Varya's final segment does lead to some needed revelations and observations about life and how we live it. Due to a busy fall, I started this book and flew through the first half, then stalled for the second half, not due to any flaws of the books, and part of me wishes I had made the time to keep going, to finish the book in a more compact timeframe, but at the same time, drawing it out over several months was rewarding as well, and in the end, I quite loved this novel.

JCLMELODYK Mar 19, 2018

I did like this book but I want to share with you who did it better. Ann Patchett's Commonwealth and Ann Packer's The Children's Crusade are both excellent family drama's that explore the connections between siblings and consequences of their parents' actions. Both Patchett and Packer do a better job of getting to the heart of the joy and pain of siblings and the unity born of a shared parentage.

Many readers may enjoy this though for a completely different reason - the suspense. The plot keeps you engaged because you have to know if the psychic's claims about the four siblings comes to pass.

Mar 15, 2018

The good reviews led me to begin reading this novel, however, I was blindsided as the reviews did not make mention of the pornographic content, (not needed to promote the storyline). I read until page 92 and determined that this is not a novel that advances my life. I was quite perturbed that I picked it up without an X rating on the cover and then proceeded to let my book club know (church book club) of its contents and that I would not continue to read this selection and felt it no longer met our criteria of quality best sellers . I have spent my career in public schools and would be quite concerned that this book would be made available to "any reader" that chose to take it out. The advertised storyline, of children learning their date of death, would be an intriguing reading selection for young readers. I am deeply distubed that so many adults gave this a positive review and I am left wondering what type of world we are inviting our young people into with this type of explicit exposure.

lindab2662 Mar 15, 2018

Does fate rule our lives? Or do we create our own fate? This seems to be the central theme of this book. I won't hash over the storyline here since its already been done in other reviews. I loved the story of Simon and felt that his story was given the most structure. The others seemed to fall off little by little until Varya. Her storyline was spare and the torture ( of the monkeys was just awful. Then she has an unresolved storyline with a son she gave up many years ago? What? I also wish the mother wasn't reduced to a Jewish stereotype. Loved the 1st half so for that it gets 5 stars. The second half gets 2 1/2 stars.

DCLadults Mar 13, 2018

I thought the first half of the book was much better that the second. I loved the pacing and the vulnerability she captures in the main characters. It is well written with a thought provoking storyline.

Mar 10, 2018

A very interesting plot concept (finding out in childhood the date of your death)... but, not well executed throughout the book. The author is young, and that lack of life experience shows in her lack of depth in characterization of all of the four siblings. Feels like she took her overall premise, then fit each character's life into a box appropriate to the time period the book covers. She dashed off Simon's life in the first section in an awkward disconnected way, set in San Fransisco during the initial AIDS panic in the early 80s. And so on, and so forth...

Mar 02, 2018

not as good as 4321

Mar 01, 2018

Many people will be surprised by this book because it is slightly different from what the blurb leads you to believe. The premise of knowing the date of your death and how that will effect your life is a connecting thread throughout the book, however the story really breaks down into 4 subplots, each dealing with the life of an individual sibling. The connections are there, but it will be up to the individual reader to place the significance of them. I was intrigued with these characters and found the book compelling. It left me a bit unsettled but I was genuinely impressed with the author and the story.

VaughanPLAlyssia Feb 22, 2018

Not quite what I expected. The book is broken up into four segments, one for each of the four siblings, rather than intertwining all of their stories. The hint of magic at the beginning of the story isn’t really picked up again, which was disappointing to me. Simon’s story was a particular sore spot for me. As soon as he moves to San Francisco in the late 70s you know exactly where his story will go, and Benjamin plays right into those expectations. A weirdly old cliché for a young author. The others were different but didn't really capture my interest.

This book didn’t really appeal to me, but it would be a good choice for book clubs. The book spans several time periods and contains a variety of subject matter, so there’s a lot to talk about. The writing is also smooth and flows well, making it a fairly quick read.

Feb 15, 2018

Very interesting concept - children learning when they would die. Intriguing to follow them as they begin their journey. Makes you think how you would live your life if you were put in that situation. Such different people - and it was so interesting to see the interactions with the siblings as they grow and move towards there designated times. Very well done.

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