Tuesday, July 31, 2012
The World Without You by Joshua Henkin
The World Without You
A Novel by Joshua Henkin
Rating: 4 stars
The World Without You is a book I read for the Opinionless book club. It is definitely not a book I would have ever picked up to read otherwise - I do not care for books with current political struggles nor do I care for books with family conflict and this one has both. However, the book is well written with good character development.
The World Without You is about a upper class New England family who lost a brother, son, husband while he was working as a journalist in Iraq. The book takes place in 2004 or 2005 the few days before the July 4th holiday and the one year anniversary of Leo's death. The book centers on the struggles the family has dealing with the death; yet, brings up the question, how does the death of a close family member effect the rest of the life of the family?
The book is told primarily from the alternating perspective of mother, Marilyn; sisters Clarissa, Lily, and Noelle; and wife/widow Thisbe. What the author Joshua Henken does so well with this book is the character development of these women. He wrote in such a way that you were irritated with the mom and sisters, absolutely hating Noelle. I absolutely loved and sympathized with Thisbe. His portrayal of sibling rivalry was so spot on it was difficult for me to read as my relationship with my brother is much that of Lily and Noelle. The anger I felt as I read Noelle was astounding.
Politics has an underlying role in the book and even though the author said he did not want to leave the reader with the impression that he had a political stance one way or the other, the book leaves no question in my mind that Mr. Henkin certainly did not take a tax deduction for a contribution to the Rupblican Party. A brief mention to the Florida hanging chad "debaucle" was mentioned and brought a smile to my face.
Will I ever read this book again? No. Will I recommend it to others - yes, but with caveats that it is full of family strife and not really a fun book to read. Personally, I would probably only give the book 2 stars for subject matter, but the fact that the author could rile me and evoke such strong emotions throughout the book I must rate it higher - 4 stars. Will I read the author again? Yes - I am adding his book Matrimony to my to read list - however, I will probably need a large buffer as I am not in the mood to read another book anytime soon that might evoke similar strong emotions.