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The History of Living Forever

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  42 ratings  ·  27 reviews
A chemistry student falls for his teacher and uncovers a centuries-old quest for the Elixir of Life

Conrad Aybinder is a boy with a secret; sixteen and ready for anything. A chemistry genius, he has spent the summer on an independent-study project with his favorite teacher, Sammy Tampari. Sammy is also Conrad’s first love. But the first day of senior year, the students are
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  42 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Jun 10, 2019 marked it as to-read
Yet another giveaway win!!!
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a moving and compelling read. You feel for both Conrad and Sam even as you are appalled by their choices. The melding of alchemy and science feels well done and believable. Like the characters you will start this book looking for certainty, but revel in the beautiful ambiguities of life by the time all is said and done.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: The History of Living Forever
Author: Jake Wolff
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Review Date: December 24, 2018

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book will not be published until June, 2019, but for some reason I was magnetically drawn to reading it as soon as I downloaded it, so here is that review. I will post on NetGalley now, and then wait until publication to post on Amazon and Goodreads.

Elissa Sweet
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The History of Living Forever is a fresh, heartbreaking book about young love, mental illness, family and, yes, the search for the elixir of life. At the beginning of the book, 16-year-old Conrad's boyfriend Sammy—who is also his high school chemistry teacher—has just died of an apparent suicide, leaving Conrad with a box of his old journals and an unfinished recipe for the elixir of life. As Conrad sifts through the layers of mystery that composed Sammy's life, he becomes caught up in the same ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-books
Like a whole box of chocolates at once: some of them strange, some of them sweet, all of them irresistible.
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaway-wins
✨I won this on Goodreads, and all I can say is THIS BOOK.
I don’t know how Jake Wolff managed to fill a book with science and all the feels and keep me so entranced. I have consciously been avoiding feelings for a while now, & failed science, so...

Synopsis can easily be found anywhere, so I’ll just give you my general lowdown.

The way this is written is woven between 3 views: the POV of the present day, told through the eyes of 16 yr old Conrad, a jaded, troubled boy who returns to school to d
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways

Every once in awhile, a story comes along that simply captures your soul. The History of Living, by Jake Wolff, is one of those stories.

Taking the reader through a deluge of different voices, but primarily focused on the lives of Conrad and Sammy, Wolff showcases the worldwide, perpetual desire for the discovery of the elixir of life. Some are after it for selfish, money-hungry reasons, some are simply looking for a way to get high, but one thing is for certain- Conrad i
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I found this book to be a good read there was just something about the story that I personally found unfulfilling. The premise was fresh and interesting but I feel like maybe each of the personal stories contained within were not explored enough to completely satisfy me as a reader.

That being said I would totally recommend this as a read. The search for the perfect elixir recipe was a wild ride and I enjoyed reading Sammy's story more than Conrad's to be honest. Would have loved to have re
Kim McGee
This is more a coming-of-age story about sexual identity and love than anything paranormal as the title suggests. 16-year-old Conrad falls head over heels with high school chemistry teacher Sammy. Sammy, like Conrad's emotionally distant dad, is fascinated with numbers and alchemy specifically the elixir of life. When Sammy later comes to a bad end either at his own doing or from his test trials, he leaves Con his notebooks on the elixir. Many are eager to retrieve this information however and i ...more
Edwin Howard
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Conrad Aybinder, a sixteen year old genius, has been thrust into his recently deceased teacher's search for the formula for the Elixir of Life in THE HISTORY OF LIVING FOREVER by Jake Wolff. The deceased teacher, Sammy Tampari, was also his first love. As Conrad digs deeper into Sammy's research, questionable people from Sammy's past appear and Conrad has to decide who to trust, all the while trying to determine why Sammy has orchestrated an elaborate plan to guide Conrad to the Elixir of Life.
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
The easiest way to describe The History of Living Forever is to say it's complicated, which is also kind of how I feel about it. The book is revolves primarily around Sammy, and Conrad, a student of Sammy's that he was having an affair with before he died. In some ways it's hard to get past the ick factor of a teacher having an affair with a student but the book is so fascinating that I almost have to store it in the back of my mind and forget about it. In addition to having an affair with a stu ...more
Heidi Kenney
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book begins with an author's note reminding readers that this novel is a work of fiction, and that every "recipe" contained in the book will kill you if ingested. Immediately my interest was peaked.

The book contains a cast of characters whose lives intersect around Sammy, a high school Chemistry teacher, who has a life long obsession with discovering a life-extending elixir. This is a story that drew me in and kept me reading late into the night. Though I didn't always agree with the decisi
Leah Spitale
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved loved loved this book. Although the plot included science and a lot of immortality talk (which didn’t interest me in the least bit) I decided to give it shot. I can’t resist an unreliable narrator and I feel that Sammy may just be the best one I’ve met in awhile. Although you are appalled by his recent choices, you can’t help but feel for him. Anyone who has ever suffered from depression can tell you that Sammy’s thoughts and feelings are spot on. It’s impossible to not feel his pain. I ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-from-pub
4.5 stars
After a summer long affair with his Chemistry teacher, a 16 year-old returns to school to find that his lover has killed himself- but he’s left a collection of journals and a quest that needs fulfilling. Aided by friends new and old, Conrad attempts to complete Sammy’s formula for eternal life.
Allegory, adventure, science fiction, coming of age- Wolff juggles it all and quite well. This was an exciting read, and despite the somewhat zany cast, the unsettling teacher/teenager relationsh
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
A Goodreads First Reads giveaway win. Sixteen-year-old Conrad Aybinder is starting his senior year of high school when he finds out that his favorite teacher, Sammy Tampari, has died. Sammy was more than Conrad's chemistry teacher, though; the two had been having a secret affair over the summer. A box arrives at Conrad's house containing Sammy's journals, where Conrad discovers that Sammy had spent years (most of his life, actually) searching for the "elixir of life." From there the book alterna ...more
Kathleen Gray
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unusual read that requires you to push aside any disapproval you might have about a teacher having an affair with a 16 year old student (yep, that's just inappropriate). Sammy, the teacher, committed suicide and left his journals, detailing his quest for the perfect elixir of life, to Conrad. Conrad, in working his way through the data, finds that there's much more to this than science. His coming of age story forces him to make choices about people, to understand things that those more matur ...more
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A fascinating look at the history of scientists attempting to find the elixir of life - to stop aging and cure disease - but through the lens of a contemporary scientist named Sammy Tampari. When Tampari dies, apparently due to an overdose of his own recipe for the elixir, his high school student and lover Conrad attempts to solve the mystery of Sammy’s past and his behavior prior to his death.

The story can be a bit dull in places and moves slowly, but it was such a fascinating look at mental h
Lisa Wright
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Men have searched for the elixir of immortality for as long as there have been men. This emotional roller coaster of a book delves into the ruinous effects of that search through the eyes of teenage Conrad and his first love, Sammy, his science teacher and alchemist. Sammy wants to develop the elixir and Conrad wants Sammy. Failing that, he wants to rescue his father. The parallel stories of the two are strange and heartbreaking, always surprising, and often funny.
Susan Burlew
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway
It was a good story. It was easy to get caught up in. My problem was getting confused with the science parts. I also had some trouble keeping track of some of the minor characters. This might not be a problem for other readers. I enjoyed the writing and would definitely read more from this author!
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A page turner for me. Developed characters and plot. Intriguing story line that kept me wanting to read more.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Well written, I enjoyed it.
Somewhat erotic, interesting story.
Overall a good read.
Anna Luce
★★★✰✰ 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 as this is a debut)

Review to come.
rated it liked it
Mar 27, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Jun 02, 2019
Eric Schlich
rated it it was amazing
Jun 17, 2019
Mason Rowlee
rated it it was ok
May 07, 2019
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
“The History of Living Forever” is a great science mystery thriller about a 16 year old genius chemistry student who uncovers an ancient quest for the secret of living forever. There is a lot to this book, it’s about science and alchemy. It’s a thrilling adventure that spans the globe. The writing is great and the storyline is excellent. I enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it. I was provided an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Apr 14, 2019
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Jun 14, 2019
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