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The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The Immortalists (2018)

by Chloe Benjamin

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7716917,122 (3.84)39



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Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
There are some remarkable, memorable, and unusual characters in this novel. The story line is unique and unpredictable. There are fortune tellers, magicians, army doctors, anti-aging researchers, San Francisco in the early 80s, intense family relationships, and more. One of the characters, Ruby, is the daughter of a Jewish (woman) magician and an Indian (man) entrepreneur (who has a memorable scene where he takes the Jewish family to task over comparisons between the Iraq War and the Occupied West Bank--handled with interesting equanimity by Benjamin's dialog, I must say). SPOILER ALERT OF SORTS: Ruby ends the novel, having taken over her mother's magic act, at the grandmother's nursing home, intoning her mother's borrowed pre-act incantation (behind the curtain, addressing the audience): "I love you all, I love you all, I love you all." (Brian)
  ShawIslandLibrary | Aug 9, 2018 |
The Short of It:

Would knowing the date of your death change the way you live?

The Rest of It:

The Immortalists asks you to push your disbelief aside in order to ask yourself that very question and for many readers I think this is impossible to do. I, however, had no problem suspending my disbelief for the sake of the story.

After the encouragement of their older brother Daniel, Varya, Klara and Simon head to a fortune-teller who provides each of the four siblings with the date of their death. This is particularly concerning to young Simon, because he’s told that he will die very young. Klara, is also told that she will die fairly young. Knowing this information, the two take off for San Francisco in their teens so they can live their lives to the fullest but what follows is a tragic host of events which ultimately affect their lives and the lives of their siblings.

The Immortalists is not a perfect story. Nor is it executed all that well but I did find myself liking Simon’s story quite a bit. As a young gay, Jewish man, the responsibility of running his father’s tailor shop for the rest of his life proved too much for him. I feel that of all the siblings, Simon’s story was the most realistic and yes, the most tragic. I would have been just fine had the entire story been about Simon but that was not the case.

All in all, the other stories didn’t fit together well but I still enjoyed the lead-up, except for some very convenient plot lines. As a book club pick, some liked it, many didn’t but we still had a decent discussion.

Would you want to know the date of your death? Personally, I would not want to know mine.

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Aug 7, 2018 |
I was going to give this book a 3 until I got to the last 1/4 of the book. Be prepared for the 1st child's life story as he was very promiscuous, and the author makes sure to give details on what the person was doing. I could have done without the details. The people make sure crazy decisions, but it all goes back to knowing the day of their death. I found this book to be interesting. Probably more of 3.5 stars. ( )
  shelbycassie | Aug 5, 2018 |
If you were told when you were going to die, would you believe it and anxiously await that day? Would it change how you live your life and color every decision from that point on?
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin is a captivating exploration of family connection and alienation, the power of faith and self-determination. The book begins in 1969 as four siblings sneak away from home to visit a woman purported to be able to tell the future. Specifically, she can predict the exact date when a person will die. The children, ranging in age from 7 to 13, nervously make their way to the woman’s home through the city streets. They are close-knit, from a caring home with hard-working second-generation immigrant parents. When they arrive at their destination, the woman tells them they each must enter alone- thus beginning a separation that will continue and grow after that day. The story is then divided into four parts, one for each main character, as they grow up under the pressing knowledge they have been given. Each of the Gold siblings are lovingly depicted by the author with great depth and complexity. They each find their way through tumultuous times, leading interesting lives filled with richness and making difficult choices. Their stories are inspiring and heart breaking, they orbit each other and overlap, but each one discovers their destiny alone. This is a wonderful book, well-written and thought-provoking.
( )
  jnmegan | Jul 31, 2018 |
The 4 Gold children have decided to visit a psychic on Hester Street to see if she can indeed predict the day of each of their deaths. The children are allowed entry into her apartment separately and sent out to the street. Each child learns that date on their own.
We really only learn that some are given dates that will not make them very old when death is to occur.
We get to know each child for a short period of time before their demises. That is what I didn't like about the novel. We don't really learn a lot about their personalities from an early stage.
The characters are very strong while we are with them. You do fall in love with each of them, whatever their quirks are. ( )
  JReynolds1959 | Jul 29, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Chloe Benjamin pulls this novel off almost as a series of four set-pieces, enriched by period detail from each era.
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For my grandmother, Lee Krug
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Varya is thirteen. New to her are three more inches of height and the dark patch of fur between her legs.
She's always thought of home as a physical destination, but perhaps Raj and Ruby are home enough. Perhaps home, like the moon, will follow wherever she goes.
Our language is our strength. Thoughts have wings.
The cost of loneliness is high, she knows, but the cost of loss is higher.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.… (more)

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