The Immortalists by chloe benjamin: my thoughts & outfit inspiration
THIS. BOOK. So my initial reason for picking up this book was the book jacket description: "If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?" Would I even want to know? What if it's today, the minute I walked out of this bookstore? Answer: Don't want to know, and resolve instead to live everyday like it's my last and part of the reason I finally started my blog....but that's a whole different blog post. Let me get back on track.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin follows four New York City siblings - Varya, Daniel, Klara and Simon, from 1969. As children they decide to go see a fortune teller who supposedly can tell you the date that you will die. Why they would want to do this mystifies me, first of all because what child wants to think of death? To be fair, the children range in age from 7 - 13 and I think at this point in your life is when you feel the most invincible. The book then follows them through their lives as they process the disturbing information and come to terms with it (or not).
The stories that stood out to me the most were Simon and Klara's. To me, IMHO, they had the most interesting stories because I can relate to their struggles of being authentic to your true self. But add to that the elephant in the room - the knowledge of your death date, and it makes me wonder if they were lead to their deaths because they lived their lives because of that knowledge, or they would have died regardless, in some other way, if they had taken a different path.
They were obviously the two siblings that were the most colorful characters, the dreamers and the least practical, much to the dismay of the two older siblings - Daniel and Varya. Simon, barely 20 years old, ditches school to be a dancer and Klara is an aspiring magician aka no financial stability. Although, I don't think that Simon and Klara were the way they were because of the predictions but that their future actions were definitely influenced by it.
Daniel and Varya's stories were, to me, the Importance-Of-Family life lesson part of the book. Being the eldest in a family has it's obligations and responsibilities and it's something thats always ingrained in you from the beginning. I would know, being an oldest child myself - "you're the oldest, you set an example.." etc. , eye roll, etc. With that comes the protector role and all of the questions of how do I protect my younger siblings and take care of my parents as they get older. Was there anything I could have done or could do to make sure they're okay? Where do you draw the line between making sure everyone else is okay and looking after yourself and your own problems?
Daniel grows up to become a military doctor grappling with issues of pleasing his superiors and doing what's right. Varya is a biologist in an animal testing lab studying the effects of different methods on aging and mortality. (I wonder why..)They both seem to care about each other but seem distant, almost as though by avoiding each other they don't have to think about the elephant in the room. Daniel, I feel is more preoccupied with the past and at the same time looking to the future by trying to sustain a relationship with his estranged niece, Ruby (Klara's daughter).
Varya was someone I constantly felt sorry for throughout the book. The lesson within her story is that limiting life's guilty pleasures for the sake of prolonging it is pointless. Which is pretty much the reason why, no matter how much I care to be in shape, I will never EVER not eat ice cream, steak or chocolate. Everything in moderation. But I digress. It's almost as though Simon and Klara sucked all the fun out of her life simply because they decided to say fuck it, life is short, let's do our thing. Varya and Daniel both struggle with guilt most of all and it's almost as though by limiting her life and living a spare existence she can either save them all or atone for everything she wasn't able to do. I felt that she didn't really want to live her adult life that way but that she felt she had to if only to make things right in her mind.
My favorite quote from The Immortalists is from Klara and pretty much my favorite "scene" from the book:
"It's not enough to explain what we don't understand....It's not enough to account for the inconsistencies we see and hear and feel....It's not enough to on which to pin our hopes, our dreams, our faith...Some magicians say that magic shatters your worldview. But I think magic holds the world together. It's dark matter; it's the glue of reality, the putty that fills the holes between everything we know to be true. And it takes magic to reveal how inadequate reality is..."
I would definitely recommend this book, it's easy to read and I read it in about 3 days because it's a page turner. It really makes you feel all the emotions and made me tear up at one point. I can actually see it becoming a movie, although if it did, the images of how the characters look in my mind would be ruined by it. Anyone else have this dilemma? In the words of Klara Gold, "I love you all".