The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin is a story about four siblings who as kids getting to know when exactly they will die. It is not about if they would like to know because out of fun and child’s curiosity they already got this information. It is about life after that.
Simon, Klara, Daniel, and Varya are from 7 to 13 years old, they come from Jews family and their father recently died. It is understandable that they are fascinated by death and they are so smitten to hear that there is in their neighborhood a fortune teller. They obsessively try to find her not thinking about how their life will change forever after this visit.
The book is divided by four main chapters dedicated to every single one of a sibling but their life becomes more and more tightened, as they slowly realize that that prophecy actually works.
First is a Simon, who died youngest and although it seems like the most unbelievable to die so young, he - the youngest of them treated his prophecy seriously. He decided that if it meant to die so young then it is time to live life the most until it lasts. He moves to San Francisco and pursues his heart and lives like in his dreams. It is fascinating and heartbreaking to get to the feeling of gay’s night clubs in 80. and total lack of knowledge in this time of AIDS. His story left me completely shattered but there was always hope and there were as you can guess some good news at the end of the whole story too.
Second is Klara who always dreamed to be a magician and her life is probably the most fascinating of all of the siblings. Balancing at the edge of reality and illusion, she thinks: “Perhaps the point is not to resist death. Perhaps the point is that there’s no such thing”.
She is the closest to Simon, in fact, they live together in San Francisco and while Simon is learning ballet she perfecting her tricks and starting to perform on stage.
“Klara’s greatest trick is not the Jaws of Life, but the force of will it takes to ignore her audience’s pagers and stonewashed jeans. In performing, she rewinds the clock to a time when people marveled at illusion and spiritualist talked to death, when they believed the dead had something to say”. (p.135)
As a super talented but extra sensitive person too she seems to feel more than we can imagine about the art of life and death itself:
“Is that that reality is too much? Too painful, too limited, too restrictive of joy or opportunity? No… I think it’s that reality is not enough”
Daniel and Varya are other siblings whom fortune teller said that they will live longer but then they have more time to question themselves. Could they do anything to prevent the death of Simon and Klara, was their death a coincidence or should they believe in this silly prophecy? How is that even possible to know the exact date of death and how dare the fortune teller could say it to reckless kids!
Yes, they have definitely more difficult lives with this baggage to bear, even if they choose to not believe in prophecy, they realized that it was true for their siblings.
“Life isn’t just about defying death… It’s also about defying yourself, about insisting on transformation. As long as you can transform, my friend, you cannot die.”
The idea of this book is really amazing, leaving many open questions not only if we would like to know the date of our death but also about determination. If having that kind of knowledge would affect our choices or how much would we believe and agree with that. Maybe it is only our choice to believe in it? We all know that we will die, but knowing when would be really that bad?
Would you know the date of your death? I think that I do but again would I made my choices better if I knew the last day or I would just live in fear counting days?
Reviewer: Monika Barrera
Review rating: 5/5
Date published: 12 July 2018
Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
ISBN: 978 1 4722 4498 7