The year is 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side and the Gold siblings have heard rumors of a mystical psychic living in their area. This rumored gypsy-lady claims to be able to tell anyone the exact date that they will die. The siblings, all under the age of thirteen, decide to visit the woman together and then–one at a time–learn the exact date of their death. Such is the setup for Chloe Benjamin’s new novel, The Immortalists.
Once they have stepped out of her door, their lives and how they live them have forever been changed. Each sibling’s story of how they manage their decisions in life knowing when they will die is then told in moving and powerful chapters.
Simon, the youngest, has his story told first– it follows him as he moves to San Francisco, young and looking for love in the 1980s. We then move on to Klara’s magical world as she becomes a preforming magician obsessed with fantasy and blurring the lines of reality. Daniel is next; he becomes an army doctor post 9/11, hoping to control fate, even if it’s not his own. Lastly, we have Varya who has completely thrown herself into her work: longevity research, testing the boundaries between science and immorality.
Each story holds your attention, even though you know the outcome. It’s almost impossible to not become emotionally invested in each sibling. Benjamin has written a rich and thought provoking novel on the nature of believing. How does learning when you will die, even if it could be untrue, determine how you live your life in the present? Is our time of death predetermined, or can we play a part in changing our destiny? This fascinating read leaves you dreaming for long afterward.
Signed first editions of The Immortalists are currently available.