Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Ask Me About My Uterus [review]


Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman
Published by Nation Books on March 6, 2018
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg:
3.74 (as of 03/11/2018)
cw: assault, eating disorders, attempted suicide, domestic abuse

Spoiler-free Review of an eARC Provided by the Publisher and Netgalley

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

For any woman who has experienced illness, chronic pain, or endometriosis comes an inspiring memoir advocating for recognition of women’s health issues

In the fall of 2010, Abby Norman’s strong dancer’s body dropped forty pounds and gray hairs began to sprout from her temples. She was repeatedly hospitalized in excruciating pain, but the doctors insisted it was a urinary tract infection and sent her home with antibiotics. Unable to get out of bed, much less attend class, Norman dropped out of college and embarked on what would become a years-long journey to discover what was wrong with her. It wasn’t until she took matters into her own hands–securing a job in a hospital and educating herself over lunchtime reading in the medical library–that she found an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis.

In Ask Me About My Uterus, Norman describes what it was like to have her pain dismissed, to be told it was all in her head, only to be taken seriously when she was accompanied by a boyfriend who confirmed that her sexual performance was, indeed, compromised. Putting her own trials into a broader historical, sociocultural, and political context, Norman shows that women’s bodies have long been the battleground of a never-ending war for power, control, medical knowledge, and truth. It’s time to refute the belief that being a woman is a preexisting condition.


It’s kind of strange: when I enter into conversations with medical professionals outside of the office, they ask where I went to medical school. When I was in the office as a patient, however, I just got asked if I ‘Googled a lot’ before coming into the office.

I knew I had to request this the moment I saw it on Netgalley. The incredibly gorgeous cover drew me in right away and the blurb cemented my decision to give it a try. And I am so, so glad that I did. This memoir follows Abby Norman in her experiences with endometriosis. I don’t know about y’all, but I knew next to nothing about endo before reading this. I had no idea what a difficult, debilitating disease it was or how little is known about it by modern medicine. To say that this book is extremely educational feels like an understatement.

Was being sick making her depressed or was depression making her sick? How many of us have asked the same question, or ask it almost daily as we slog forward in time? It’s the ouroboros of pain from which we cannot escape, no matter how hard we try, unequivocally felt by us and questioned by everyone else — until we, too, are forced to doubt the veracity of our reality.

Abby specifies right from the start that this book is meant to be a jumping-off point for readers, and not their sole source of information regarding endometriosis. She makes it clear that this is her story, and not meant to speak for anyone else. This explanation includes acknowledging that she comes from a place of relative privilege and urging the reader to seek out more diverse experiences. She also points out that calling endometriosis a women’s disease is a misnomer, as both trans men and cis men can suffer from it.

If history had been told by women, would we not be so in the dark about a disease that has, theoretically, always existed?

Her own experiences are downright heartbreaking to read. When symptoms begin to appear, Abby ignores them as long as possible before going to the hospital, something I can certainly relate to. Her voice is repeatedly silenced by medical professionals, mostly male, who downplay the severity of what she is going through. She is able to intertwine her own story with facts and figures, as well as historical parallels.

First-person accounts by women throughout history are limited by a peculiar social paradox: menstruation is both mundane and wildly taboo.

Abby’s voice comes through strong and clear in her writing and I found this book difficult to put down. She is a strong, sympathetic character and you’re forced to keep turning the pages in the hopes that things will get better. This book feels like a vitally important read, not only because of the information relayed, but also because it is relayed in such a way that the reader can’t help but take it all in. This is not a dry piece of nonfiction, but the compelling story of a woman fighting for her diagnosis.

(All quotes have been taken from an uncorrected proof and may have been changed in the final publication.)

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Merry Spinster [review]


The Merry Spinster by Daniel Mallory Ortberg
To be published by Holt McDougal on March 13, 2018
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
Goodreads avg: 
cw: domestic abuse,

Spoiler-free Review of an eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Goodreads | IndieBound 

From [Daniel] Mallory Ortberg comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from [his] beloved “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” series, “The Merry Spinster” takes up the trademark wit that endeared Ortberg to readers of both The Toast and [his] best-selling debut Texts From Jane Eyre. The feature become among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a perfect vehicle for Ortberg’s eye for deconstruction and destabilization. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

Readers of The Toast will instantly recognize Ortberg’s boisterous good humor and uber-nerd swagger: those new to Ortberg’s oeuvre will delight in [his] unique spin on fiction, where something a bit mischievous and unsettling is always at work just beneath the surface.

Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

Bed time will never be the same.

I know that retellings are getting old for some people, but Daniel really does a magnificent job with this collection. As with any short story compilation, some fell a little short for me, but overall I was highly impressed with what he had done. All of the stories here are inspired by “fairytales” of some kind, but they aren’t necessarily what you’ll be expecting. They’re the perfect blend of creepy and thoughtful.

“Someday, I think,” she said, her voice muffled under the tub, “I would like to meet someone I have not caused any pain.”

My rating for each story:

The Daughter Cells ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Thankless Child ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Fear Not: An Incident Log ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Six Boy-Coffins ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Rabbit ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Merry Spinster ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Wedding Party ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Mr. Toad ⭐️⭐️
Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Frog’s Princess ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

She was beginning to learn the danger of silence, and that someone who wishes to hear a yes will not go out of his way to listen for a no.

In total, these scores averaged out to 3.36, which I’ve rounded up to a 3.5. I thought they were very well-written, and was particularly excited to see a lot of gender non-conformity in the stories. Gendered pronouns and titles were essentially meaningless in some of the stories, which was an interesting and much appreciated route to take. I’d definitely recommend this collection to anyone interested.

She was reluctant to offer any of her children, even Beauty, to something so monstrous and polite but she was even more reluctant to be shot, and mothers have given their children to monsters before.

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(Cover and blurb [pronouns edited by me] courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Sometimes I Lie [review]


Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
US Edition to be published by Flatiron Books on March 13, 2018
258 pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
goodreads avg:
fat-shaming, sexual assault, rape

Spoiler-free Review of an ARC provided to me by Flatiron books.

Goodreads IndieBound |  Author’s Website

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

This was an incredibly well-done novel that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Even though the unreliable narrator is made clear from the very start, I still had a very difficult time piecing together what was true and what wasn’t. Amber’s character is extremely compelling and it’s difficult not to trust her.

A lot of people would think I have a dream job, but nightmares are dreams too.

The novel is split up by time periods: the coma, the week before the coma, and childhood. The chapters are carefully crafted so that just enough anticipation builds up before the time period changes and the reader is left wondering what happened. This method really works with the story, allowing us to piece together just enough for the plot to move forward while still wanting more.

There is always a moment before an accident when you know you are going to get hurt, but there is nothing you can do to protect yourself.

There were so many twists that I felt were truly surprising, I had a couple of literal jaw-dropping moments while reading. The end felt a tad rushed and I didn’t quite agree with how everything went down, but overall it was a highly enjoyable read. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone interested in a good thriller.

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(Cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Bookworm Blogging

March 2018 Releases


Here are the books on my TBR that have anticipated release dates in March! I haven’t read these yet, so if you managed to get an ARC of any, please let me know how you liked ’em!


March 6th

An inventive story collection that spans the globe as it explores love, childhood, and parenthood with an electric mix of humor and emotion.

Acclaimed for the grace, wit, and magic of her novels, Ramona Ausubel introduces us to a geography both fantastic and familiar in eleven new stories, some of them previously published in The New Yorker and The Paris Review. Elegantly structured, these stories span the globe and beyond, from small-town America and sunny Caribbean islands to the Arctic Ocean and the very gates of Heaven itself. And though some of the stories are steeped in mythology, they remain grounded in universal experiences: loss of identity, leaving home, parenthood, joy, and longing.

Crisscrossing the pages of Awayland are travelers and expats, shadows and ghosts. A girl watches as her homesick mother slowly dissolves into literal mist. The mayor of a small Midwestern town offers a strange prize, for stranger reasons, to the parents of any baby born on Lenin’s birthday. A chef bound for Mars begins an even more treacherous journey much closer to home. And a lonely heart searches for love online–never mind that he’s a Cyclops. 

With her signature tenderness, Ramona Ausubel applies a mapmaker’s eye to landscapes both real and imagined, all the while providing a keen guide to the wild, uncharted terrain of the human heart.


Children of Blood and Bone
March 6th

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.


Girls Burn Brighter
March 6th

A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.

When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima’s father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them. 

In breathtaking prose, Shobha Rao tackles the most urgent issues facing women today: domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism. At once a propulsive page-turner and a heart-wrenching meditation on friendship, Rao’s debut novel is a literary tour de force.


The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One
March 6th

The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.

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(Covers and blurbs courtesy of Goodreads.)

Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

February 2018 Wrap-Up

Books Read:

  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. 5/5 stars.
  • Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce. 4/5 stars, reread.
  • Red Clocks by Leni Zumas. 5/5 stars.
  • Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman. 5/5 stars, review to come.
  • This Love Story Will Self-Destruct by Leslie Cohen. 4/5 stars, review.
  • The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. 3.5/5 stars, review to come.
  • Wolf-Speaker by Tamora Pierce. 3.5/5 stars, reread.
  • Would You Rather by Katie Heaney. 3.5/5 stars, review to come.

Books DNF’d:

  • The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Books read: 8
Books DNF’d: 1
Average Rating: 4.19 stars


  • The Cloverfield Paradox [2018] directed by Julius Onah. 5/5 stars.
  • The Ritual [2017] directed by David Bruckner. 2/5 stars.
  • Annihilation [2018] directed by Alex Garland. 4/5 stars.
  • Every Day [2018] directed by Michael Sucsy. 3/5 stars.

Other Posts:

Reading Goal Progress:

In January, I read 8 books, which puts me at a total of 17 books for the year. I’m 6 books ahead of schedule and at 23% of my reading goal for the year. 🙂

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover [review]


The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen
Expected publication by Dutton Books on February 27, 2018
240 pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
goodreads avg: 
cw: see review

Spoiler-free Review of an eARC provided by NetGalley.



Bewitching and playful, with its feet only slightly tethered to the world we know, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover explores hope, love, and loss across a series of surreal landscapes and wild metamorphoses. Just because Jenny was born without a head doesn’t mean she isn’t still annoying to her older brother, and just because the Man of the Future’s carefully planned extramarital affair ends in alien abduction and network fame doesn’t mean he can’t still pine for his absent wife. Romping through the fantastic with big-hearted ease, these stories cut to the core of what it means to navigate family, faith, and longing, whether in the form of a lovesick kraken slowly dragging a ship of sailors into the sea, a small town euthanizing its grandfathers in a time-honored ritual, or a third-grade field trip learning that time travel is even more wondrous–and more perilous–than they might imagine.

Andreasen’s stories are simultaneously daring and deeply familiar, unfolding in wildly inventive worlds that convey our common yearning for connection and understanding. With a captivating new voice from an incredible author, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover uses the supernatural and extraordinary to expose us at our most human.

From the instant I saw the cover, I knew I just HAD to read this book. It had already been on my TBR when I stumbled across it on Netgalley and slammed the request button reflexively. I love bizarro short stories, I love cephalopods, and I love anything with an octopus on the cover.

Unfortunately, these stories just didn’t mesh well with me. It wasn’t a bad read, it just wasn’t anything over-the-top outstanding. If you’re interested, I’d say give it a shot regardless. Michael Andreasen is a talented writer and I’m intrigued to see what else he comes out with!

Below I’ve rated and provided content warnings for each of the individual stories.

Our Fathers at Sea ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Bodies in Space ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Sea Beast Takes a Lover ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The King’s Teacups at Rest ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
He is the Rainstorm and the Sandstorm, Hallelujah, Hallelujah ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Rockabye, Rocketboy ⭐️⭐️ 
(cw porn, pedophilia, stalking)
The Saints in the Parlor ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Andy, Lord of Ruin ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
(cw animal abuse/animal death)
Jenny ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
(cw assault)
Rite of Baptism ⭐️⭐️
Blunderbuss ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Avg: 3.36 rounded down to 3

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(Covers and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Not Books, Personal

Unique Blogger Award 1 & 2

I was tagged for the Unique Blogger Award by both Steph and Rachel. 🙂 Thank you both so much!!

The Rules:

  • Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you
  • Answer the questions
  • In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award
  • Ask them 3 questions

Steph’s Questions:

What is the lock screen and home screen on your phone? (I’m just curious)

Lock screen is my roommate’s cat and home screen is… my roommate’s cat. Different pictures. I just love this cat a lot, okay??

What’s something you were really into/obsessed with when you were a kid?

HORSES. I was THE horse girl. Also books, obviously. 😉

What was the best birthday you’ve had?

Last year! I threw a party at my apartment and most of my favorite people were there and there was pizza and drinks and youtube karaoke and lots of laughs. I’ll cherish that party forever. 🙂

Rachel’s Questions:

Where’s the farthest place from home that you’ve traveled to?

Mexico! I went for a few hours once while we were staying in San Diego visiting family.

What is your favorite fictional relationship?  Either romantic or platonic.

Potential spoilers for Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom and The Raven Cycle ahead???

I am currently OBSESSED with Jesper and Wylan right now. And Blue/Gansey also destroys me.

What is one food that your town/state/country is known for, and do you like it?

My general region is known for maple syrup, and I love it! My dad had a sap house set up when I was a kid and we made our own from the trees in our backyard (we lived in the woods).

I tag:

Avery @ Red Rocket Panda
Ashley Rae @ Thrifty Bibliophile
Wendy @ What the log had to say
Destiny @ Howling Libraries
Danielle @ The Introverted Book Nerd
And anyone else who would like to do it. 🙂

My questions:

  • If you could have ANY (non-fictional) animal as a pet, which animal would it be? In this hypothetical scenario, there are no legal limitations and you are able to give them the best care possible.
  • What and where is your ideal vacation?
  • What is one thing you love about yourself?

Please let me know if you do this so I can see your answers!

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Not Books, Personal

Boskone 55 Day 1

Hey everyone, I went to my first SF/F convention last weekend! It was a pretty spontaneous decision. A few weeks ago I was looking at Tamora Pierce’s events page and noticed that she was slated to be at an event right here in Boston! I took a look at the schedule of events and between the awesome panels and Tammy being there all three days, I decided to get tickets.

I ended up going alone, which I didn’t mind at all. That way, I got to go to all the panels I wanted to go to and could take breaks whenever I felt like it. It was really nice! There was so much going on that I decided one blog post would not be enough. SO, for the next couple weeks, I’ll be doing a post a week about the convention! This post will cover my first day.

I left work a few minutes early so I could make it over to sit in on an interview with none other than Tamora Pierce herself. She was hilarious and had a lot of interesting things to say. She talked about why having publishers is helpful (“If I had to do all that stuff, how would I write?”), said that she is pro-fanfic (but doesn’t read them because she doesn’t want to accidentally steal fans’ ideas), and revealed how she creates such dynamic characters (bases them off of real people!).

Directly afterward, I went to a panel called Exploring Gender in Speculative Fiction. The speakers were Stacey Berg, Suzanne Palmer Julie Holderman, Stephen P. Kelner Jr., and Inanna Arthen. They discussed a lot of different pieces of media where the idea of gender, or a gender binary, is played with in some way. One of the ideas mentioned was that SF/F may be a safe place to explore things that could otherwise be considered strange or scary by some. Julie also said one thing that I particularly related to: “It takes an incredible amount of emotional energy to educate people about yourself all the time.”

I took a couple hours for dinner and relaxation before going to Evolution and Alien Psychology, featuring Stephen P. Kelner Jr. again. This was one of the most fascinating events I attended the entire weekend. Most of the discussion was based around evolutionary psychology and the potential impact of certain environments upon species. It was a lot of speculation, which I really enjoyed. There’s a lot to take into consideration for authors who are writing fictional species.

By then it was 10pm and waay past my usual bedtime, so I headed home to get a good night’s rest for the next day. I was already unbelievably excited, since the first day had been so much fun already! Next week I’ll be publishing my Boskone Day 2 post, so keep your eyes peeled. 🙂

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

This Love Story Will Self-Destruct [review]


This Love Story Will Self-Destruct by Leslie Cohen
Published by Gallery Books on January 23, 2018
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg:

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

This is the classic tale of boy meets girl: Girl…goes home with someone else.

Meet Eve. She’s a dreamer, a feeler, a careening well of sensitivities who can’t quite keep her feet on the ground, or steer clear of trouble. She’s a laugher, a crier, a quirky and quick-witted bleeding-heart-worrier.

Meet Ben. He’s an engineer, an expert at leveling floors who likes order, structure, and straight lines. He doesn’t opine, he doesn’t ruminate, he doesn’t simmer until he boils over.

So naturally, when the two first cross paths, sparks don’t exactly fly. But then they meet again. And again. And then, finally, they find themselves with a deep yet fragile connection that will change the course of their relationship—possibly forever.

Follow Eve and Ben as they navigate their twenties on a winding journey through first jobs, first dates, and first breakups; through first reunions, first betrayals and, maybe, first love. This is When Harry Met Sally reimagined; a charming tale told from two unapologetically original points of view. With an acerbic edge and heartwarming humor, debut novelist Leslie Cohen takes us on a tour of what life looks like when it doesn’t go according to plan, and explores the complexity, chaos, and comedy in finding a relationship built to last.

I’m really glad I ended up picking this up. It was a nice, mostly light-hearted read that offset the thriller I had also been working my way through. From the moment I began, I just loved the voice that Leslie Cohen uses in her writing. I genuinely had trouble believing that this was a debut  novel, as her talent makes you believe you’re reading the work of an established and highly-lauded author.

Does an apartment still exist once you no longer live there?

I loved Ben and Eve both, and found them relatable in their own ways. I can understand Eve’s compulsion to destroy something before it can destroy itself, and I found Ben’s firmly-rooted logic to be soothing. They both felt like such real people. I also loved the way that Leslie wrote New York City, even though I’m pretty unfamiliar with it myself.

I was in that state of intoxication where you become very direct, very to the point. You tell people how you feel. You grab things that you want.

The story itself was great, and anyone who hates instalove will probably enjoy this book. Ben and Eve meet again, and again, and again over the years, before their relationship finally develops into something more. To me, this is a more realistic kind of love. Sometimes the people you love just drop out of the sky, but more often than not, I think they sneak their way in.

[…] we were in that weird in-between period when you’ve hooked up once or twice but you don’t want to hold hands or even make bodily contact in real life because everything is very unclear.

Overall, this was a lovely book and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Leslie’s future work.

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Immortalists [review]


The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on January 9, 2018
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg:
cw: homophobia, suicide, depictions of OCD/anxiety, animal cruelty

Spoiler-free review of an ARC provided by the publisher as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

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 am sitting down to write this review over a week after finishing The Immortalists and realizing I wrote myself very few notes to refer to, so I’m going to have to go off of what stands out to me the most from this book. I remember being struck by the writing right away. I found myself pulled into the story, having no idea where it would go. I tend to add books to my TBR and then completely forget what drew me to them. I avoid re-reading the blurb directly before diving in so that I have no expectations. What I’m saying is, I went into this book almost completely cold.

When Klara peels a dollar from inside someone’s ear or turns a ball into a lemon, she hopes not to deceive but to impart a different kind of knowledge, an expanded sense of possibility.

I found the format very interesting. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that you gain insight into the perspectives and motivations of each sibling in turn. I will say a little about my feelings regarding each character. I thought Simon’s section was precious and sad, I had a lot of emotions while reading it. Klara was maybe my favorite sibling, I felt really strongly for her and wished that I could reach into the book and save her from what was going on. Daniel’s section was the weakest, in my opinion, and I found it hardest to relate to him. I felt very strongly for Varya as well; it seemed to me that she and Klara were separate sides of the same coin and I related very solidly to different aspects of each of them.

Years later, a different therapist asked her exactly what she was afraid of. Varya was initially stumped, not because she didn’t know what she was afraid of but because it was harder to think of what she wasn’t.

Most of my experience reading the book involved me poring over the pages, trying to figure out what would happen next. There are a lot of surprises, and a lot of unanswered questions. If you want everything tied up neatly with a bow at the end, this may not be the book for you. Like I said above, Daniel’s section felt the most difficult to relate to. The book faltered a little for me there, which is mainly why it didn’t end up being a five-star read for me. Other than that, though, The Immortalists was kind of a masterpiece.

I recommend this book to people interested in familial relations, existential crises, and heartbreaking stories.

Other people speak of the ecstasy to be found in sex and the more complicated joy of parenthood, but for Varya, there is no greater pleasure than relief — the relief of realizing that what she fears does not exist. Even so, it’s temporary: a blustery, wind-swept pleasure, hysterical as laughter — What was I thinking? — followed by the slow erosion of that certainty, the creeping in of doubt, which requires another check in the rear view mirror, another shower, another doorknob cleaned.


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(Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)