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The World Without You
Henkin, as in MATRIMONY his first book, is a wonderful writer. Unfortunately, I don’t know ANY of his characters. But more importantly, I don’t WANT to know them. The father is distant, the mother is self-absorbed. Clarissa, who has turned her back on a career as a cellist, is unhappy with her current life and sure a child – HER child, and only HER child - will complete her world. Lily is angry at everyone for unknown and unknowable reasons. Noelle, a wild child to the extreme, has become an orthodox Jew, sure that only blindly following every jot and title of every law will fulfill her. Thisbe, the widow of the only son of the family, valiantly tries to remain normal. Who are these unhappy people? Surely there must be someone Henkin can write about that is at least marginally happy. If there was a happy ending to this book, I could not find it. I was not looking for a saccharine sweet book, I was just hoping for something other than unrelieved unhappiness. I’ll look for another author for my next book.
A good book about family
I found The World Without You to be a very satisfying novel of a dysfunctional family. It is the story of a family coping with the loss of their son/brother a year previous in Iraq. The family is brought together by the anniversary of the death, but the story is really all about the lives of the survivors and how the brothers death has affected each of them. The book is sad, funny and hard to put down. The characters are all very believable and very human. You will be frustrated by them and you will have hope for their future. The characters are the story in this book and I would recommend it highly.
This book has a compelling sense of intimacy that draws you into this unhappy family right away. It is a story about the characters of a family who have suffered a devastating loss, but still have to go on living every day as if things were the same, when they are very much not the same. An ordinary story made large by the circumstances of the one who is lost.