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The World Without You (2012)

by Joshua Henkin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3403675,187 (3.65)8
Fiction. Literature. HTML:***National Jewish Book Awards 2012, Finalist***
      JJ Greenberg Memorial Award for Fiction

From the author of the New York Times Notable Book Matrimony ["Beautiful . . . Brilliant."‚??Michael Cunningham], a moving, mesmerizing new novel about love, loss, and the aftermath of a family tragedy.

It‚??s July 4, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this is no ordinary holiday. The family has gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings, an intrepid journalist and adventurer who was killed on that day in 2004, while on assignment in Iraq.

The parents, Marilyn and David, are adrift in grief. Their forty-year marriage is falling apart. Clarissa, the eldest sibling and a former cello prodigy, has settled into an ambivalent domesticity and is struggling at age thirty-nine to become pregnant. Lily, a fiery-tempered lawyer and the family contrarian, is angry at everyone. And Noelle, whose teenage years were shadowed by promiscuity and school expulsions, has moved to Jerusalem and become a born-again Orthodox Jew. The last person to see Leo alive, Noelle has flown back for the memorial with her husband and four children, but she feels entirely out of place. And Thisbe ‚??Leo‚??s widow and mother of their three-year-old son‚??has come from California bearing her own secret.

Set against the backdrop of Independence Day and the Iraq War, The World Without You is a novel about sibling rivalries and marital feuds, about volatile women and silent men, and, ultimately, about the true mea
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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
I had high hopes for this book, but it fell a little short for me.
The character's started out interesting but Noelle the former fast girl turned Orthodox Jew, married and living in Israel. The middle child Clarissa struggling with the beginning of infertility and the baby Lily, struggling with how to define herself and her relationship with her boyfriend of 10 years. All return to their family's summer home on the anniversary of their baby brother's Leo's death and the unveiling of his "marker"(?). I was initially intrigued by all the character's, including the parents who use this time to announce their intent to divorce. However about half way in it felt like Noelle took up a lot of the story and I grew bored with her and her marriage to Anram. Lilly didn't really flesh out, most of her scenes and back story seemed to involved Leo's widow Thisbe whom once you got over the name ( or maybe I'm just becoming a cynic about names), you could enjoy.

THe climax of the book seemed to be the memorial service which was just tributes to Leo and not a lot of action. After that the book seemed to continue downhill, a random showing by the long, lost ( or rather reclusive grandmother) and honestly a lot of other stuff that I couldn't get into.

I'm not sure of this was more a case of too much hype( i even pledged to read this to get my grandmother a copy of the O magazine) or what but I wasn't feeling it at all. I hurried through the end and almost missed a key plot point but I was just wanting to get to the end. ( )
  sunshine608 | Feb 2, 2021 |
Never maudlin or angsty, The World Without You is a gripping family drama that I highly recommend. To read my review in its entirety, please visit http://www.bookreviewsandmorebykathy.com/2012/06/19/the-world-without-you/ ( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
The family was interesting and I cared about the characters. I was also very curious to see what the author did with them, but it turned out to be not that interesting. There was also too much in the book that strained credibility. ( )
  suesbooks | Oct 19, 2017 |
The World Without You by Joshua Henkin started off with a slow pace and because of the many characters, a bit of confusion for me. But as the story approached the middle, the speed picked up and by then you knew that memorial was planned for the son of Marilyn and David Frankel. Leo, their son was a journalist had been kidnapped and killed in the Iraq War. His mother planned a memorial a year later. He was the only son of a family that had three daughters, Clarissa, Lilly and Noelle.

The mother, Marilyn had given up on their marriage and she planned to tell the family while everyone was there the memorial. David had not given up but could not figure out anything to save their marriage. All of the daughters each had their own relationship problems. We get slowly learn about the background of each daughter and their relationship with Leo, their brother. Also his widow, Thisbe was coming with her three year old son. The tension builds, the scenes at the dinner table are scenes so real life that you want to get up to get excused so that you can leave. There are family secrets but also family animosities. As the story deepens, it gets very difficult to part with the book. If you are like me, you clamor for some resolutions.

I did enjoy this book very much after learned who the characters were and started to care about them. I applaud the author for great way he wrote the dinner scenes. Those were painful to read but very realistic. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in family relationships, grief and cultural differences. ( )
  Carolee888 | Dec 28, 2016 |
I really, really liked this novel. I loved all the family dysfunction and the author did a great job fleshing out the central characters. The ending was a bit odd but not so much that it changed my overall feeling about the book. I know there has been some comparisons to the Daniel Pearl story but I really didn't see it other than the son who was a journalist who was killed in Iraq (although Daniel Pearl was killed in Pakistan, not Iraq)- think those comparisons are overblown. Overall a great, fast read and beautifully executed character study. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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Fiction. Literature. HTML:***National Jewish Book Awards 2012, Finalist***
      JJ Greenberg Memorial Award for Fiction

From the author of the New York Times Notable Book Matrimony ["Beautiful . . . Brilliant."‚??Michael Cunningham], a moving, mesmerizing new novel about love, loss, and the aftermath of a family tragedy.

It‚??s July 4, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this is no ordinary holiday. The family has gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings, an intrepid journalist and adventurer who was killed on that day in 2004, while on assignment in Iraq.

The parents, Marilyn and David, are adrift in grief. Their forty-year marriage is falling apart. Clarissa, the eldest sibling and a former cello prodigy, has settled into an ambivalent domesticity and is struggling at age thirty-nine to become pregnant. Lily, a fiery-tempered lawyer and the family contrarian, is angry at everyone. And Noelle, whose teenage years were shadowed by promiscuity and school expulsions, has moved to Jerusalem and become a born-again Orthodox Jew. The last person to see Leo alive, Noelle has flown back for the memorial with her husband and four children, but she feels entirely out of place. And Thisbe ‚??Leo‚??s widow and mother of their three-year-old son‚??has come from California bearing her own secret.

Set against the backdrop of Independence Day and the Iraq War, The World Without You is a novel about sibling rivalries and marital feuds, about volatile women and silent men, and, ultimately, about the true mea

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