Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists confronts the mortality we all must face but also appeals to the desire to believe in something greater than ourselves, the magic within humanity. Themes addressed in this book include fate, family, happiness and free-will.
How I discovered this book: I ran across this book by seeking out new releases for January and read the blurb and it sounded compelling.
Plot: The four Gold children seek out the predictions of a fortune-teller that has the reputation of knowing the exact day you will die. The children individually face the fortune-teller to learn how long they have to live. The results vary and almost immediately they are changed in how they live their lives, the choices they make are often in spite of what they know as they balance the believability with the reality.
Writing: Benjamin’s cleverness is apparent when finishing the book. It is formulated as a quartet with each sibling having a voice through their part, but when finishing the book and seeing the whole of the story, one arch instead of four, you as the reader can sit back and think about all the choices the characters made, then before you even realize it, your judgement weighs in on the decisions made by these fictional lives. The wisdom of the reader impacts how you process the larger ideas and the funneled scope of this story and after this much thought, it’s hard not to consider how you internalize your own mortality. Are you living a life that you are satisfied with? By projecting your judgement on these characters, analyzing how they could have changed the direction of the proclaimed fate, you change them as characters, Which brings us right back to the beginning, that the only way to live your life is to balance between the known and the unknown.
How this book stands out: The four drastically different personalities of the siblings allow you to find a commonality with one or all of them. The way this book tugs at your inner perspective of your own life is remarkable and the prose itself was a delight to read.
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.
A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.
“Magic is only one tool among many for keeping one another alive.”
― Chloe Benjamin,