38. The Immortalists (Chloe Benjamin)

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 8.23.10 AMIt is not often that I choose a book by its’ cover but The Immortalists’ cover was a deciding factor.  I was also intrigued by the “teaser” (what my daughter calls the cover description) asking “If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?”.  The novel is set in 1969 New York City.  Four siblings visit a fortune teller, discovering the dates of their deaths which impacts their futures.

Each child keeps their dates private but never forget this legacy.  This date shadows their decisions and choices as they grow up and follow their paths.  The book is broken down into sections, each dedicated to one sibling.  It is an engaging yet palate cleansing read which leaves readers thinking about the logistics and impact of knowing when you will die.

Simon is the youngest.  He has a secret and runs away to San Francisco to find himself.  Klara seeks magic, learning the trade of illusion and trickery starting off in San Francisco and travelling to Las Vegas.  Daniel becomes a physician, determining the fitness of military recruits.  He marries and looks after his widowed mother.  Varya becomes a researcher, working with monkeys to study longevity and aging.  She distances herself from her family but always thinks about that date looming in the future.

The book leaves the reader pondering their fate.  Was the date their destiny?  Did each sibling plan their life and make decisions supporting that date?  Could things have been different?

The Immmortalists is Chloe Benjamin’s second novel.  Originally from San Francisco, she lives with her spouse in Wisconsin.  I am always curious about the reading habits of authors so appreciate that she posts a link to books she has read on her website.  I will keep my eyes open for a copy of her first book, The Anatomy of Dreams which also looks like a thought-provoking novel… and also has a fetching cover design!

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