The Immortalists is a multi-generational family tale that takes place on New York’s Lower East Side between the 1960s and present day. The book’s premise, as per the jacket, is that four siblings hear about a fortune-teller in their neighborhood who is known for predicting the exact dates of death of those who visit her. The siblings manage to make an appointment, and the information each of them receives regarding their fate dictates the way they live their lives moving forward. To be honest, I thought the plot sounded trite when I skimmed the description, and I passed over it on more than a few bookstore visits. One day, though, during a reading rut, I reluctantly plucked a copy from Barnes & Noble’s shelves and got reading. I am not exaggerating when I say that—from the moment I opened the book—I did not put it down until I finished. It. Is. So. Good.
The Immortalists is divided into four parts: each part deals with one sibling, and the book is in chronological order, meaning [obvious spoiler alerts ahead, so stop if you must] that each sibling’s section takes you from their journey of discovery through to their death, with the fourth section detailing the life of the last sibling standing. From the first to go, who lives his life with the vigor of someone aware he doesn’t have much time on earth – to the last, rendered obsessive about her health by the fates of her three siblings. The book is a fascinating, heart-rending study on the different ways humans approach mortality, and manages to successfully present itself both as a page-turner and a thought-provoker, a rare feat for the trash thriller/chick-lit-laden ‘bestselling fiction’ section of the bookstore.
If you like Meg Wolitzer, you’ll LOVE this book.
Also, Meg’s hotly-anticipate novel, The Female Persuasion is out next month!