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Long for This World

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  233 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
A wise and richly symphonic first novel, Long for This World is a thoroughly contemporary family drama that hinges on a riveting medical dilemma. Dr. Henry Moss is a dedicated geneticist who stumbles upon a possible cure for a disease that causes rapid aging and early death in children. Although his discovery may hold the key to eternal youth, exploiting it is an ethical ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 21st 2004 by Mariner Books (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30)
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May 23, 2009 Tim rated it it was amazing
Details, details, details. Michael Byers sweats the small stuff in "Long for This World" (great double-meaning title) and it pays off like crazy. Byers lovingly gives us backstories of his protagonist family -- 17-year-old daughter, 14-year-old (I'm guessing on ages) son, mother and father, takes his time building their personalities with small incidents, and overall does an absolutely fantastic job of telling a multifaceted story through character and excellent writing.

Don't look for a straight
Jan 29, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Seattleites, fans of Jodi Picoult
Recommended to Linda by: book club
Shelves: fiction, book-club
Set in Seattle during the heyday. I'm a sucker for a Seattle setting, but that was just gravy since I really liked the story of a medical researcher, his tender relationship with the Hickman patient he's studying and issues of medical ethics. The two main teenage characters were vivid and real to me, too. Wish this author still lived in Seattle and would set more books here ...
Mar 28, 2009 Travis rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book. How Byers manages to press so much life--life in all its luminous complexity--onto the page always mystifies me---in a good way. In the best way. A generous, immensely gifted writer.
Aug 01, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Toni
Shelves: general-fiction
Absorbing. I liked the medical aspect of this book, the weightiness of the medical jargon, the discussion of gene mutation rates. Byers detailed description of Seattle, my beloved home town, created a nostalgic longing in me, a sense of pride and ownership. It was thrilling to recognize the landmarks, to picture the streets and places of business, to see, in my mind's eye, the once familiar landscape. Too, the storyline is engaging. It was a bit slow though not in a detracting way. Byers ...more
Jacqueline Masumian
Nov 09, 2016 Jacqueline Masumian rated it it was ok
This book had much going for it - the story of a geneticist who faces a moral dilemma - but it was at least 100 pages too long. With needless meandering subplots, numerous bits of unnecessary backstory, extraneous characters, and a great deal of empty dialogue that lapsed into tedious conversation, the book was spoiled by a lack of disciplined editing. Too bad, as the main story and characters were interesting.
Steve Chaput
Apr 13, 2010 Steve Chaput rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 28, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
Long for This World has caused me to add a new shelf to my Goodreads profile: drama. Human drama would be more appropriate but, quite frankly, I can't imagine many other novels falling under this category. Michael Byers tells the touching, realistic story of Dr. Henry Moss and his research regarding the Hickman disease, a disorder that causes children to age prematurely. Henry is personally drawn to a certain child, William, and a possible cure he may find in another boy, Thomas. While this ...more
Aug 06, 2009 Marvin rated it liked it
Set in Seattle at the peak of the dot-com boom, it's a time and place where greed repulses & tempts the nice, decent middle-class family at the heart of the story: middle-aged parents with a teenaged son & daughter. The 17-year-old daughter, a 6'1" basketball player & straight-A student, and the 14-year-old son are trying to find their place in the world, experimenting at low level, in age-appropriate ways, with sex--and talking to their parents, in mutually respectful but cautious ...more
Jan 29, 2011 Cball rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: PNWers
Shelves: adult-fiction
Good read for Seattle based people. Set in Seattle in the late 90's is a place I remember very well. It was fun taking a romp down memory lane when the dotcoms were taking over and everyone and their brother were becoming millionaires on paper. The characters are, dare I say it, normal. This makes the storyline quiet but not boring. By the end of the book, I loved each and every member of the family. Henry the researcher at the UW (this is an interesting book to read from a researcher's ...more
Jul 27, 2011 Jen rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Book Club July 2011 Tina's book

From the book jacket this story sounded so promising. Medical discovers something so exciting...what should he do with this knowledge? There was a lot of extra junk in this book and it really took away from the core story which was a shame. I felt like the book still needed to be edited. I loved the scenes between William and Henry and the ones with William and Darren. Heartbreaking stuff. My favorite scene hands-down had to be when Darren takes his Mo
Feb 20, 2013 Bibliophile rated it really liked it
Docile, unassuming genetecist Henry Moss discovers a possible cure for the rare disorder that causes premature aging in children. Overwhelmed by the medical and financial possibilities of his findings, he is faced with ethical decisions and temptations. The discovery of the potentially wonderful mutation is engagingly described, but this is no medical thriller. The focus is always on Henry and his family (Austrian wife Ilse and two teenage kids) and their attempts to define themselves and their ...more
Aug 07, 2016 Jennifer rated it liked it
Dr. Henry Moss is a doctor who works with children afflicted with the congenital disease Hickman's that causes them to age quickly and die at a young age. He stumbles upon a boy that has the gene but no symptoms. The boy is perfectly healthy and appears to age slower than normal. He hopes that he has found a way to cure the disease but it may be too late for his favorite patient. Henry is excited to research the possibility of a cure but knows that clinical trials will take several years before ...more
Jul 03, 2014 Eva rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
I really enjoyed this book. I didn't *love* it, and it wasn't a compulsive read, but the characters were all complexly sympathetic in their own individual ways, I appreciated how independent but complementary the story lines of the family members were, and I'm a sucker for genetics. Good lab work gets me every time. The various conclusions for the separate characters were pleasingly balanced but not satisfying per se; because the novel was more a set of character studies than it was plot-driven, ...more
Apr 20, 2008 Anne rated it liked it
I enjoyed the book... a fictional story about a geneticist and his patients with Hickman's disease. The story may be fictional, but unfortunately, the disease is not. The story does raise some ethical issues regarding medical research. I actually saw (and heard from) a child with Hickman's on Oprah once. The story depicts the disease as I saw it described on Oprah. I believe the book treats the disease realistically without sensationalizing it. Unfortunately, if the book had sensationalized it, ...more
Sara Mannheimer
Jan 22, 2009 Sara Mannheimer rated it really liked it
This book had large aspirations, and it drew an insightful picture of daily family dramas. The only place where I wished for more was in the ethical dilemma department -- it felt like Byers was trying to write about this new genetic discovery, but got caught up in his characters instead. But still, the book was full of moving moments, empathy, and insight into the human condition. It was lovely.
Oct 19, 2007 Ben rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Literary Adventurers
I found this novel based on a review that I think I'd heard on NPR. This is a literary thriller that I would recommend to someone who loves books but is looking for a rest between more "serious" or complicated tomes.

Byers puts together a delightful little novel about a man who discovers a cure for a disease in an unlikeable child but is temped to use it to treat a child he loves. A good book.
Aug 10, 2014 Jeanine rated it really liked it
Quite intrigued by the medical aspects but surprisingly endeared by the dialogue and stories of the teenaged characters. A wonderful multifaceted novel. Appreciated the authors ability to bring such depth to his characters.
Apr 05, 2012 Valerie rated it liked it
I found this book somewhat difficult to read in the beginning. I wasn't drawn in until about halfway through. There was a lot of unecessary detail that made it difficult to become absorbed. I'm very glad I kept reading though. Overall it was a beautiful story.
Feb 15, 2010 Rory rated it it was ok
Recommended to Rory by: Derek
Shelves: abandoned
75 pages in, I have read mostly unnecessary backstory, told with heinous verbosity and lame dialogue. The real story is just starting, yet I still don't care about any of the characters enough to get through the remaining 350 pages. Cannot comment on the storyline, as I never made it that far.
Mar 08, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
Good book, interesting story. But so much detail, I found myself scanning over entire paragraphs to get through it. The characters have such strange personalities, I had a hard time connecting with them.
Jan 08, 2010 Lynn rated it really liked it
The 1999 Seattle setting excellently evoked; the premise right up my alley, the characters believable (for the most part) and sympathetic, the medicine interesting
May 11, 2007 Nicholas rated it really liked it
Follows a Seattle family through their understanding of who and what they live for. Moves throughout characters flawlessly. Quality read.
Jun 25, 2012 Sheri rated it really liked it
Great book about a dedicated geneticist. It appealed to my love for science and literature. The protagonist is in search for a cure for a disease that causes rapid aging and early death in children.
Feb 02, 2008 Phyllis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A sweet book about life and death, mortality and immortality. The main character is a research physician studying accellerated aging, who happens upon a child who has the gene but is not aging.
Feb 05, 2014 Peggy rated it really liked it
Good characterization, interesting weaving of POV. Liked the cadence of the voice.
Surprisingly good read, with a disappointingly abrupt ending.
Jerrilynn Lilyblade
Apr 26, 2014 Jerrilynn Lilyblade marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
Claire rated it it was amazing
Apr 21, 2014
Jamie Coughlin
Jamie Coughlin rated it really liked it
Apr 27, 2016
Brian Short
Brian Short rated it it was amazing
Jun 30, 2008
Ged rated it really liked it
Aug 02, 2011
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Michael Byers is the author of the story collection The Coast of Good Intentions, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the acclaimed novel Long for This World, winner of the First Novel Award from Virginia Commonwealth University. Both were New York Times Notable Books. A former Stegner Fellow and Whiting Award winner, he teaches at the University of Michigan."
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