Tell Me How This Ends Well Summary and Reviews

Tell Me How This Ends Well

by David Samuel Levinson

Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel Levinson X
Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel Levinson

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Book Summary

An ambitious, gripping, darkly funny family drama about the reckoning of three adult siblings with their profoundly flawed parents, set during Passover in a near-future America rife with anti-Semitism and terror, from an award-winning short-story writer.

In 2022, Jewish Americans face an increasingly unsafe landscape. A flood of Israeli refugees into the country has brought deep hostilities and latent anti-Semitism to the forefront of American life. Amid this fraught climate, the Jacobson family gathers in Los Angeles for Passover, reuniting from around the world for the first time in years. But despite the backdrop of increased intolerance and terror, their immediate problems seem to be more personal than political. The family is coming apart at the seams and the three adult children, Mo, Edith, and Jacob, find themselves in various states of crisis, the result, each claims, of a lifetime of mistreatment by their hateful, undermining father, Julian. The Jacobson offspring have begun to suspect that Julian is hastening their mother Roz's demise, and years of resentment reach a climax as the siblings debate whether they will go through with the real reason for their reunion: an ill-considered plot to murder their father and end his iron rule once and for all. That is, if they can put their bickering, grudges, festering relationships with their partners, and distrust of one another to the side long enough to act. And God help them if their mother finds out…

Darkly comic, disturbingly prescient, and incredibly accomplished, Tell Me How This Ends Well interweaves the stories of this very troubled family into a rare and compelling exploration of the state of America itself, asking profound, chillingly perceptive questions about where our world, country, and each of us could be headed.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Imaginative, intelligent, cluttered, long on black humor, and just long." - Kirkus

"The story's environment is claustrophobic, and in the book's depiction of latter day anti-Semitism, Levinson leavens the humor with some chilling cautionary notes." - Publishers Weekly

"With well -crafted characters, this unsettling saga will be appreciated by those who enjoy dark novels with wit and sass." - Library Journal

"Tell Me How This Ends Well is Cormac McCarthy's The Road doing 70mph in reverse on the 405. David Samuel Levinson's dystopian vision is deeply strange in the best way, perverse and precise and teeming with life, reminiscent of George Saunders, Flannery O'Connor, Nathanael West. A comic novel firing on all cylinders, with one eye on the highway and the other to our future." - Daniel Torday, author of The Last Flight of Poxl West

"Like absolutely nothing I've read before, Levinson's brilliantly unsettling, fiercely funny novel takes on both dangerous intolerance in the near-future world, and in the confines of one wildly destructive family, where ties tighten like nooses and kith and kin can become like warring political systems. Affecting and hilarious, and filled with dark truths that gleam like jewels. I totally loved it." - Caroline Leavitt, author of Cruel Beautiful World

"Tell Me How This Ends Well is a wickedly funny, intelligent examination of the dynamics of a uniquely strange family, and David Levinson guides these characters through a plot that intensifies in such unexpected ways. Against a backdrop that feels both terrifying and yet utterly plausible, Levinson again and again finds ways to make the struggles of this clan explode with a kind of humor that most writers could not dream of pulling off. A daring, memorable novel." - Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

"David Samuel Levinson's Tell Me How This Ends Well is an absolute joyride through the dark, beautiful terrain of the near future. This is a book that is, arguably, about everything - about family and love and hatred and politics and the indomitable self, and Levinson tackles the whole thing with abundant intelligence, seriousness and humor, and convinces, once again, of the novel's enduring power to grasp the future." - Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat and Other Stories

"Witty, acerbic, hilarious, terrifying, and true, David Samuel Levinson's Tell Me How This Ends Well is a treasure." - Amanda Eyre Ward, author of The Nearness of You

"Tell Me How This Ends Well is one of those rare stories that are both painfully intimate and terrifyingly universal." - Lara Vapnyar, author of Still Here

The information about Tell Me How This Ends Well shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Jill F. (Blackwood, NJ)

Loved it!
I don't what it says about me that I loved this book as much as I did. On the face of it, dystopian society, murder, terrorism, persecution. Having fun yet?
Haven't we all had that one person in our lives at one time who made us think "justifiable homicide?"
Julian Jacobson is the poster child for justifiable homicide. "Thou shall not kill" be damned!
Dark, disturbing, quirky, fun - this book has it all.

Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)

The title gives you a clue . . Hang in there
The real question is, tell me how this book is so funny, sad and scary all at the same time. Anyone who has found a place in his heart for "The Family Fang", the "Sisters Brothers", and "The Middlesteins" will want to sit down and hear the story of the Jacobsons. Nuff said.

Joane W. (Berlin, MD)

Tell me how this ends well
I loved this book. It is a many faceted story: black humor, anti semitism and a wonderfully dysfunctional family. I did not find it very futuristic except for an unerring prophecy of Israel. I would like to say more but it would be more enjoyable to read it yourself.

Lee M. (Creve Coeur, MO)

Passover
Its 2022 and a family gathers for Passover. And the hilarity begins. All the serious, earth shattering, jaw-dropping troubles that can happen to each individual does happen and somehow Mr. Levinson makes it all funny, enjoyable and OH 'something like that happened in our family.' And we recognize some of our great crazy relatives. I smiled or laughed all the way through.

Sally H. (Geneva, OH)

Tell Me How This Ends Well
This book is disturbing, hilarious, satisfying (Julian got what he deserved), ridiculous and in many ways all too real (though I fervently hope that the book's raging return of anti-Semitism never becomes real). I rated it a 4 rather than a 5 because it seemed to get bogged down in unnecessary detail a few times, but overall I found it well worth my time. I plan to recommend it to my book club.

Susan S. (Lafayette, CA)

Tell Me How This Ends Well
This book uses a literary device that I love of letting us see the family history and the events immediately before, during, and after the central event from the point of view of each of the three adult children and one other family member. Each person knows different things and has different feelings about the gathering and each other, and I kept re-setting my understanding of events and people as I progressed through the book. The book is sometimes very funny, especially in the first section, but of course also is intentionally unsettling as we are continually made aware of what is happening in the world and in the country (particularly since none of that seems far-fetched).

I thought it dragged a little in the middle, but the last sixty pages or so make up for that. I loved the last part of the book, about which I do not want to say anything more specific in order to avoid spoilers. I will just say that there is a real payoff at the end.

...9 more reader reviews

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More Information

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David Samuel Levinson is the author of the novel, Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence and the story collection, Most of Us Are Here Against Our Will. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has received fellowships from Yaddo, the Jentel Foundation, Ledig House, the Santa Fe Arts Institute, the Sewanee Writers' Conference and the Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers. He has also been published in The Atlantic, RE:AL, storySouth, The James White Review, The New Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories, The Brooklyn Review, Prairie Schooner, The Toronto Quarterly, West Branch, and Post Road, among others. He has formerly served as the Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College and as the Fellow in Fiction at Emory University.

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