Release date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: G. P. Putnam and Sons
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?
It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.
Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.
I love the questions that the premise alone of The Immortalists raises, if you could find out the date you will die would you? If you would, how would that shape your life? Would you live in fear knowing the clock is ticking to a specific end date? Or would you live each day to the fullest and be fearless and daring? So much to ponder here and I predict this will be a popular pick for many book clubs in the months to come.
This read like a family saga that spans decades but it was presented in a new and unusual way. Each of the Gold siblings tell their story with each one taking up about a quarter of the book. It begins in the late sixties and ends in 2006 and while I found all of their sections compelling, I enjoyed Simon’s the most. His is mainly set in the early eighties in San Francisco and his gentle spirit and journey to finding what truly makes him happy really touched me.
This was a thought provoking read that will make you question your own mortality and manages to teach some important life lessons without being cheesy. Benjamin has a lovely way with words, I can see this being classified as literary fiction without that pretentiousness that sometimes accompanies that genre.
Overall rating: 4.5/5
Thanks to the publisher and the Great Thoughts Ninja review team for my copy.