Review: Tell Me How This Ends Well




Synopsis:

Why is tonight different from all other nights?

Tonight we kill dad. 

In 2022, American Jews face an increasingly unsafe and anti-Semitic landscape at home. Against this backdrop, the Jacobson family gathers for Passover in Los Angeles. But their immediate problems are more personal than political, with the three adult children, Mo, Edith, and Jacob, in various states of crisis, the result, each claims, of a lifetime of mistreatment by their father, Julian. The siblings have begun to suspect that Julian is hastening their mother Roz’s demise, and years of resentment boil over as they debate whether to go through with the real reason for their reunion: an ill-considered plot to end their father’s iron rule for good. That is, if they can put their bickering, grudges, festering relationships, and distrust of one another aside long enough to act. 

And God help them if their mother finds out . . . 

Tell Me How This Ends Well presents a blistering and prescient vision of the near future, turning the exploits of one very funny, very troubled family into a rare and compelling exploration of the state of America, and what it could become. (less)

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel Levinson is a dark read. A dysfunctional Jewish family that has more problems than most. Each family member has struggles. These struggles create the craziness and intensity that becomes frightening. Three adult kids each one hates their father in more ways than I can count. Their hatred is so strong that it sends chills over my arms and down my back. Despite hating their father, they all love their mother. They see her a the victim against their father’s terrible iron clad rule. As the pages unfold, I also learned what the father felt and thought of his kids and wife. There was never a good moment between all members. Sad, edgy, and unexpected twits. Tell Me How This Ends Well is a bold telling of one family. Their lives are far from perfection. The family’s pain will stay with readers for a long time. Overall, David Samuel Levinson’s book was a great read. 

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Review: Here I Am


Synopsis:

In the book of Genesis, when God calls out, “Abraham!” to order him to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham responds, “Here I am.” Later, when Isaac calls out, “My father!” to ask him why there is no animal to slaughter, Abraham responds, “Here I am.”
How do we fulfill our conflicting duties as father, husband, and son; wife and mother; child and adult? Jew and American? How can we claim our own identities when our lives are linked so closely to others’? These are the questions at the heart of Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel in eleven years–a work of extraordinary scope and heartbreaking intimacy.
Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington D.C., Here I Am is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a spiraling conflict in the Middle East. At stake is the very meaning of home–and the fundamental question of how much life one can bear. 

Showcasing the same high-energy inventiveness, hilarious irreverence, and emotional urgency that readers and critics loved in his earlier work, Here I Am is Foer’s most searching, hard-hitting, and grandly entertaining novel yet. It not only confirms Foer’s stature as a dazzling literary talent but reveals a mature novelist who has fully come into his own as one of the most important writers of his generation.

Rating: 4-stars

Review

Here I Am is the first novel that I have read by Jonathan Safran Foer. Jos writing style is completely new to me so, I can’t compare this to his other works. But based on what I have read, this book is worth reading. It shows a dysfunctional Jewish-American family that many can relate to…plus, the characters come off as realistic. I may not understand the full content of what the writer wanted to show me…but I got the gist of it. The plot surrounds a family. Parents with marital problems, frustrated son, and a religious upbringing. The oldest son is the one character that really pulled me into the book. His journey is full of bumps. More bumpier than his parents. He sees, hears, and experiences that he may or may not want to experience. He’s growing up and his view on things are sad, rebellious, and frustrating. I can sympathize with him at times. The novel, Here I Am, is definitely an emotional rollercoaster ride that was believable even if it was hard to follow at times. Definitely different than what I normally read. Overall, it was good. 

Review: The Mortifications

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Synopsis:

Derek Palacio’s stunning, mythic novel marks the arrival of a fresh voice and a new chapter in the history of 21st century Cuban-American literature.

In 1980, a rural Cuban family is torn apart during the Mariel Boatlift. Uxbal Encarnación—father, husband, political insurgent—refuses to leave behind the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. His wife Soledad takes young Isabel and Ulises hostage and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life. But instead of settling with fellow Cuban immigrants in Miami’s familiar heat, Soledad pushes further north into the stark, wintry landscape of Hartford, Connecticut. There, in the long shadow of their estranged patriarch, now just a distant memory, the exiled mother and her children begin a process of growth and transformation.

Each struggles and flourishes in their own way: Isabel, spiritually hungry and desperate for higher purpose, finds herself tethered to death and the dying in uncanny ways. Ulises is bookish and awkwardly tall, like his father, whose memory haunts and shapes the boy’s thoughts and desires. Presiding over them both is Soledad. Once consumed by her love for her husband, she begins a tempestuous new relationship with a Dutch tobacco farmer. But just as the Encarnacións begin to cultivate their strange new way of life, Cuba calls them back. Uxbal is alive, and waiting.

Breathtaking, soulful, and profound, The Mortifications is an intoxicating family saga and a timely, urgent expression of longing for one’s true homeland.

— The Millions – 2nd half of the 2016 book preview
— New York Times Book Review, 100 Notable Books of 2016

 

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

The Mortifications by Derek Palacio is a fascinating debut novel. This Cuban-American literature takes readers deep into the lives of immigrants. Human needs and wants are explored throughout the story. Home, faith, family and survival are just several themes readers can find. I found it enchanting. Derek Palacio has brilliantly created a Read that will shutter readers’ hearts everywhere. The novel provokes strong emotions and realistic attachments from readers to the characters. Each character presents his or her life to readers openly. The struggles are believable. I found that the title, The Mortifications was indeed a perfect name for this book. There were shameful moments…within the pages. However, this novel showed me the hardness the immigrants like the Cuban Americans faced while trying to create their new lives. It was a refreshing reading experience from what I usually read. The journey is worthy of reader’s attention. The Ecarnacions are a dysfunctional family that experience all the trials life brings and takes from us. Vibrant, entertaining, and bold. Overall, I recommend this writer’s novel to readers worldwide.