Larry Hoffer's Reviews > The World Without You

The World Without You by Joshua Henkin
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Jun 28, 2012

it was amazing
Read from June 24 to 27, 2012

It's July 4, 2005, exactly one year after Leo Frankel, a newspaper reporter, was killed after being captured while covering the war in Iraq. His family and friends are traveling from across the world to gather in the Berkshires for a memorial service, since his funeral had been such a public spectacle. But as if the stress and grief associated with commemorating Leo's loss isn't enough, each of his family members has their own problems to deal with, as well as their relationships with each other.

His parents, David and Marilyn, have each dealt with their grief differently—Marilyn has become an outspoken critic of the war and President Bush, while David has become more introspective, preferring opera and biographies to confronting his wife's anger. And this is causing their 40-year marriage to dissolve. Leo's oldest sister, Clarissa, is struggling to become pregnant at age 39, which is wreaking havoc on her relationship with her husband, Nathan. Lily is dealing with an inability to effectively deal with her grief and anger, and doesn't want to have to depend on anyone for help, not even her boyfriend of 10 years. And Noelle went from a youth spent mired in promiscuity to a life in Israel, where she and her husband, Amram, are Orthodox Jews raising four boys. Leo's widow, Thisbe, also flies in from California with their three-year-old son, Calder, and she is dealing with secrets of her own, as well as the struggle to keep Calder from forgetting a father he barely knew. As the family gathers, they deal with their own issues and rehash old hurts, and wonder where the future will find them.

When I read Joshua Henkin's novel Matrimony a few years ago, I fell in love with it completely, and I couldn't wait for him to write another book. The World Without You hooked me immediately, and if it wasn't for the obligations of work, exercise, and sleep, I would have finished the book in a day or two. Yes, this is a familiar story of family frictions and relationship issues, but the characters Henkin creates, and his terrific storytelling ability, raises the book several notches above your typical family drama. This book deals with questions of family, loss, communication, trust, dependency, anger, and need, and it does so quite skillfully. I don't want to have to wait another few years for Joshua Henkin's next book, but since he's such a great writer, I know it will be worth the wait! (That being said, I just ordered his first novel, Swimming Across the Hudson, off of Amazon.)
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Reading Progress

04/21 marked as: read

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-14 of 14) </span> <span class="smallText">(14 new)</span>

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message 1: by Betsy (new)

Betsy hi Larry i love reading your reviews it helps me so much with book choices


Suzanne Great review Larry. I just bought this.


Larry Hoffer Thanks!! I'm a big fan of this author.


message 4: by Christine (last edited Apr 21, 2016 04:00PM) (new) - added it

Christine Excellent review, Larry. A polarizing book amongst readers. Would you say this family is for the most part unlikable? Trying to make a decision on this one.


Suzanne Ooh, I haven't got a correct read.. This might be the answer!!


message 6: by Zoeytron (new) - added it

Zoeytron Glad your review popped up in my updates, Larry. I remember entering GR giveaways for this about a hundred times when it came out. This will serve as a reminder to get it on my own. Ha!


message 7: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine What's a "correct read", Suzanne?


message 8: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine Zoeytron wrote: "Glad your review popped up in my updates, Larry. I remember entering GR giveaways for this about a hundred times when it came out. This will serve as a reminder to get it on my own. Ha!"

ZT, me too! A zillion entries and no win. In the meantime its ratings continued to drop, which is making me wonder. Seeing Larry and DJ and some of our other buddies rank it highly is reassuring though.


Suzanne Current read! Rushing, sorry ;)


Suzanne But it looks like I do now!! Mine is hard cover, it's a nice book to hold.


message 11: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine Great, Suzanne! Will await your review.


Larry Hoffer I'm a big fan of Joshua Henkin. I hope all of you enjoy this one!!


Larry Hoffer Christine, I think some people didn't like this book as much as I did because they felt it wasn't "unique" enough. I thought Henkin's storytelling ability far transcended the familiarity of the plot.


message 14: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine Larry wrote: "Christine, I think some people didn't like this book as much as I did because they felt it wasn't "unique" enough. I thought Henkin's storytelling ability far transcended the familiarity of the plot."

That's significant, Larry, thank you! It will stay on my list.


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