MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from The History of Living Forever by Jake Wolff, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The History of Living Forever

A Novel

by Jake Wolff

The History of Living Forever by Jake Wolff X
The History of Living Forever by Jake Wolff
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2019, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 9, 2020, 384 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Adrienne Pisch
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

1
A Contradiction of Sandpipers


"Conrad!" he yelled. "It's time to go."

I'd come to Littlefield, Maine, at the beginning of middle school, after my mother died and my dad drove his car into a tanning salon. He'd blown a 0.12 and made the local news, and since then I'd lived with my aunt. When I first moved in, I had expected Emmett to resent me for a million reasons—here I was, occupying his house, sapping his parents' attention, barging into his grade despite being two years younger. But right away he'd seen the benefits. He asked me for feedback on his drawings and stories, and I helped him pass his tougher classes, which conveniently were my strongest: chemistry, bio—basically anything in a lab.

As I opened the door, he was already walking away. "Your dad is here," he said. "I'll be in the car."

I tried to hurry, but I also needed to look my best. Sammy and I had somehow gone the whole summer without discussing this day—the day we'd return to school, student and teacher, knowing what we'd done. "You're sexy," he once said to me, and it made my heart beat so fast that I had to sit on the edge of his bed while he laid a cold washcloth over my neck. Would he still feel that way when he saw me squeezed into one of those stupid writing desks with my three-subject notebook and my five-color pen? I studied my face in the mirror, disappointed to find only my usual self: handsome enough but goofy looking, like a sidekick. My tawny eyes were too small to be pretty, my Jewish curls always too long or too short. I dyed those curls blond for one week in middle school, and my civics teacher told me I looked like Art Garfunkel. Although I hated to admit it, I saw my father in the mirror, too. When I was little, my mother would say, "You have your dad's nose," and my father would grab his face, panicked. "Give it back!" he'd cry.

I found my dad in the kitchen working on a bowl of Froot Loops. He'd shaved his beard and looked so much like my grandfather he might as well as have been wearing a Halloween mask. His skin hung loose on his face.

"Why are you here?" I asked, searching the cabinets for a granola bar.

He didn't look up. "They do let us out, occasionally."

After his fall, he'd booked into a twelve-week alcohol rehab facility near Forest Lake. He needed to finish the program before he could make it onto the transplant list, but the doctors didn't believe he'd live that long. Even after the car crash, my father maintained that he did not, in fact, have a drinking problem. I wondered without asking whether he'd used my first day of school as an excuse to escape for the morning.

The cereal had stained his milk a radioactive shade of green. "I don't know how you eat that stuff," I said.

He stirred the milk. "You should see the color of my pee."

"Pass." I headed for the door.

He reached for my arm, and I saw the gauntness of his waxen limbs. He'd lost at least forty pounds from his heaviest, at least ten since his fall. He drowned in his denim shirt like a child playing dress-up. His wrists, delicate like bird bones, were visible past the fabric of his sleeves, and I could see his veins, blue and bloated, beneath the vitreous skin of his hands.

"I thought you'd have visited by now," he said.

I'd spent the summer with Sammy working on my science-fair project—an experiment on memory-impaired rats—or curled up in his bed, testing actions and reactions of a different sort. But even when I wasn't with Sammy, I was too busy thinking about him to do much else. Sometimes, as a dare to myself, I'd pretend that I would be the first to lose interest. Sorry, Sammy, but I can't be tied down. Sure, I loved him, but the summer was over. I was a senior, two years ahead of schedule, and soon I'd be applying to college. At this rate, by the time the year ended I'd be forty, with a job and a dog and a fixed-interest mortgage. By the time the year ended, Sammy would be too young for me. He'd be a good story, nothing more. "You won't believe what I did when I was sixteen," I'd tell my dog.

Excerpted from The History of Living Forever by Jake Wolff. Copyright © 2019 by Jake Wolff. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Alchemy Across the Ages

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: How to Build a Heart
    How to Build a Heart
    by Maria Padian
    Maria Padian is well-known for her motif of exploring teen reactions to social issues. Her novel ...
  • Book Jacket: Follow Me to Ground
    Follow Me to Ground
    by Sue Rainsford
    Ada and her father are human-like beings who age slowly and possess the power to heal all illness. ...
  • Book Jacket: Children of the Land
    Children of the Land
    by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
    In this exquisitely crafted memoir, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo describes coming of age as a young ...
  • Book Jacket: A Good Neighborhood
    A Good Neighborhood
    by Therese Anne Fowler
    After fictionalized biographies of Zelda Fitzgerald (Z, 2013) and Alva Vanderbilt (A Well-Behaved ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Cartier's Hope
    by M. J. Rose

    A Gilded Age gem of ambition & betrayal from the author of New York Times bestseller, Tiffany Blues.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Father of Lions
    by Louise Callaghan

    A true-to-life narrative of one man's remarkable quest to save the Mosul Zoo.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
American Dirt
by Jeanine Cummins

"American Dirt is a Grapes of Wrath for our times."
—Don Winslow

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The Lost Family

The Lost Family
by Libby Copeland

A deeply reported look at the rise of home genetic testing and the seismic shock it has had on individual lives.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A F I Need I A F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.