Book Club: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin


Hey, pals! It's been a while since I shared a book club post! Sorry, it's not that I haven't been reading, I've just, well, not been writing about it.

I just finished reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, however, and it needed to be shared. This book is so beautiful and sad, when I finished reading it I didn't quite know what to do with myself. It begins with four siblings in New York. They see a fortune teller and find out what days they are going to die. As you can imagine, some of their dates are closer than others.

It's a tragic and stunning exploration of the relationship between fate and free choice.

Here are the quotes I highlighted while reading:

"What she really wanted was not to live forever, but to stop worrying."

(Imagine that. To stop worrying. A gift far greater than immortality. In fact, immortality combined with a propensity to worry sounds just the worst.)

"They began together: before any of them were people they were eggs, four out of their mother's millions. Astonishing, that they could diverge so dramatically in their temperaments, their fatal flaws--like strangers caught for seconds in the same elevator."

(Have you ever thought about siblings in this way? I haven't. The wonder of these particular eggs combining with other particular sperm, all coming from the same two people and yet creating such different people; the chance of being an egg, squished up next to a million other eggs, but a few of them become your siblings.)

"Tonight she stood behind the curtain with her hands clasped. On the other side, she could hear the audience whispering and fidgeting and rustling their cheap printed programs in anticipation. 'I love you all,' she whispered. 'I love you all, I love you all, I love you all.'"

(If I were still a performer, I would adopt this as a preshow ritual. As I am not, I am going to consider where in my life it might create unity, joy, love, and community to remind myself of this. Perhaps before writing. Or going to a difficult meeting.)

"'Don't apologize,' Gertie says, reaching out to swat Varya's arm. 'Be different.'"

(Oof. That's a biggie.)

"Most adults claim not to believe in magic, but Klara knows better. Why else would anyone play at permanence--fall in love, have children, buy a house--in the face of all evidence of no such thing?"

(This one, too. Let's sit with it for a moment.)

"As long as you can transform, my friends, you cannot die."

(I don't agree, but I love the sentiment.)

"Thoughts have wings."


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