Bonnie Brody's Reviews > The World Without You

The World Without You by Joshua Henkin
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Aug 04, 2012

Read on August 04, 2012

For the first time in one year, since the death of their son and sibling, Leo, the Frankel family has gotten together for a reunion. Leo, who was killed in Afghanistan one year ago was a journalist and op-ed writer on duty when he was murdered. Ironically, the date of his death was July 4th. The Frankels have a summer home in the Berkshires and the whole family has traveled there from all over the world.

With them they bring their families and their secrets. The parents, Marilyn and David, after forty years of marriage, have decided to separate. The grief is just more than they can bear. Noelle is a born-again orthodox Jew. Once a wild child, she traveled to Israel and became very religious. Clarissa is trying desperately to get pregnant. She never thought she'd want children but now at 39 she is finding it impossible to conceive. The biggest secret, however, is Thisbe's. Leo's widow now has a boyfriend and she is at a loss about how to tell the family. She's always felt like an outsider for many reasons and this will put the final lid on the jar.

How the Frankels maneuver this weekend and deal with each other is the theme of the novel. It is about family, communication, history that goes back to childhood, and all that we carry with us. While I enjoyed the book, I would have liked the characterization to have been deeper. Joshua Henkin is a good writer and I look forward to reading his other work. I have already ordered Matrimony and Swimming Across the Hudson.
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