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May 2018: Family Drama > The Immortalists - Benjamin 3.5 stars

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message 1: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 699 comments The Immortalists - Chloe Benjamin
The Immortalists is a book that I read for f2f bookclub. I disliked somethings and I liked somethings but I think this book will make for a great book discussion so was perfect as a bookclub choice.

The author, Chloe Benjamin, is San Francisco Native, and this is her second book. She recieved recognition for her debut novel The Anatomy of Dreams. The Immortalists is a New York Times Bestseller, #1 Indie Next Pick for January 2018, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, #1 Library Reads pick, and Amazon Best Book of the Month. This book has a touch of San Francisco, the east coast, and the midwest with honorable mention of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The book is the story of 4 siblings who in boredom and adventure seek out a fortune teller who tells them when they will die. The book is told in four sections featuring each sibling and how they chose to live their lives, how this information effected them or did not effect them. From the first to die to the one that will live to nearly 90.

Quote: ...home was in the rhythm of the halakhah: the daily prayer, the weekly Sabbath, the annual holy days. In time was their culture. In time, no in space, was their home.

First what I did not like because really that is only a small part. I thought the first life of the youngest was the descriptive sexual content. I do not think descriptive content is necessary to tell stories and I try very hard to avoid erotica and this section, while it addresses an important part of history was too descriptive. I do think the author caught the urgency of youth to experience life and to be sexual without thinking of consequences was done very well. This part of story was very descriptive of time and place.

The other thing I felt was that the author may have put too much effort into placing her book in time and place. It felt overwritten, like she didn't want to miss anything so she was covering everything. I had just read A Little Life where the author chose not to tie her book to the culture, to avoid that was to create a timeless work. That made such a contrast with this book. I also found one glaring statement that is not true. The author states that it is possible to know a persons risk for mental illness through genetic testing. There is no genetic tests that our diagnostic for schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. We can know genetic loading by looking at family history, but to find a gene, that does not exist. We can find neurological disorders like Huntington's but that is a neurological disorder.

What I liked; this is a bit harder to flesh out. I liked the Jewishness of the book. I thought the author really brought that to life.I did like the addition of the Rom's. I've had some personal encounters in my life with this people group. So I found that interesting, too. I liked the end, I liked the emphasis on "live in the moment", enjoy life. We all die, don't let that get in the way. Love people, don't let time interfere with relationships because you can't get it back.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Really good review. I just wrote this down on a list last week to look into. I don't like it when books are overwritten. Too much information doesn't always engage the reader.


message 3: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Your review is a bit lower than some other PBTers but I am not bothered by explicit sexual content UNLESS is is sexual assault. This wasn't assault was it?

I was just surprised by sexual assault in my last book and it really ruined the whole story for me.

Lol at "the Jewishness" of the book! lol


message 4: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 699 comments No assault.


message 5: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Kristel wrote: "No assault."

Good to know. Thank you.


message 6: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 699 comments All consensual heavy on the sensual


message 7: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Kristel wrote: "All consensual heavy on the sensual"

Hahaha! I can always skim those parts. Super graphic is not my favorite, but I can handle a bit of it. Though, I have to admit, that I may feel differently given the ages of the characters!


message 8: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 699 comments I will look forward to your response. It is the first section, after that then it is tame.


message 9: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments I didn’t mind the consensual sensual. I felt that it was in keeping with the theme.


message 10: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 699 comments Susie wrote: "I didn’t mind the consensual sensual. I felt that it was in keeping with the theme."

Susie wrote: "I didn’t mind the consensual sensual. I felt that it was in keeping with the theme."
I agree, and accepted that. but I still think the same message could have been given without some of the detail.


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