Author: Jean Hanff Korelitz
To Be Published: May 31, 2022
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 20- May 8, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars
The Latecomer follows the story of the wealthy, New York City-based Oppenheimer family, from the first meeting of parents Salo and Johanna, under tragic circumstances, to their triplets born during the early days of IVF. As children, the three siblings – Harrison, Lewyn, and Sally – feel no strong familial bond and cannot wait to go their separate ways, even as their father becomes more distanced and their mother more desperate. When the triplets leave for college, Johanna, faced with being truly alone, makes the decision to have a fourth child. What role will the “latecomer” play in this fractured family?
A complex novel that builds slowly and deliberately, The Latecomer touches on the topics of grief and guilt, generational trauma, privilege and race, traditions and religion, and family dynamics. It is a profound and witty family story from an accomplished author, known for the depth of her character studies, expertly woven storylines, and plot twists.
The Latecomer is a difficult novel to review. When I received it I saw how the tome that it is at nearly 450 pages and small font, I already knew I had a challenge ahead of me. The premise sounded interesting for me with triplets first and then a later in life fourth child, but the delivery was also difficult to read. We have Sal and Johanna who meet after an accident and eventually get married and have early stages IVF children.
But these children do not share a bond that you would expect with triplets, or even a shared bond as siblings at all. These triplets (Harrison, Sally, and Lewyn) do not like each other and can’t wait to get away from them and their parents. Due to the lack of familial bonds, when the triplets are seventeen Johanna decides to have the fourth embryo implanted into a surrogate.
None of these characters are likeable, with Harrison being the least liked by me as a reader. I skimmed over Harrison’s chapters; I was not interested in him at all. I was intrigued more with Sally and Lewyn with their situation of being at the same college, but not acknowledging each other at all. Of course, this situation heads to disaster.
If you can make it through the first 300/350-ish pages, then when Phoebe (the fourth child) makes an appearance then you are in for a ride as she changes everything up when she becomes seventeen. There is a bit of a surprise in these last pages where nothing is as you think!
This is a novel that focuses on family dysfunction, high art society, privilege, race, and secrets galore. The Oppenheimer family are Jewish, so for those not familiar with the Jewish religion and traditions, you will learn some. The Latecomer is a slow burn that if you can make it through until Phoebe takes off then you are set!
Many thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy via Bookish First.
Your Turn to Suffer
Author: Tim Waggoner
Published: March 23, 2021
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Lorelai Palumbo is harassed by a sinister group calling themselves The Cabal. They accuse her of having committed unspeakable crimes in the past, and now she must pay. The Cabal begins taking her life apart one piece at a time – her job, her health, the people she loves – and she must try to figure out what The Cabal thinks she’s done if she’s to have any hope of answering their charges and salvaging her life.
Random find at Gene’s Books! Every time I go there, I find books that aren’t on the shelves at B&N or Books-a-Million and I just love the discoveries I make there! This book saw me coming! Hooded figures demanding Lorelai to “confess and atone— or suffer”. Y’all know I’m all about secret societies, so I bought it and moved it right to the top of my list! Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I was expecting. Not a failure by any means, just not what I was hoping for. This was an odd paranormal/sci-fi-ish kinda book. My main problem that brings it down a whole star is that I wish I knew what was going on. What is this Balance. When did the Cabal start? What about this Intercessor? I need more information!!! I did enjoy reading it; it was a little slow at the beginning but then when it went off, it went! There were some truly scary scenes and I think any horror fan would really enjoy this book. A successful find!!
An American Marriage
Author: Tayari Jones
Published: February 6, 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 5-17, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future.
An American Marriage is a difficult novel to read and this is because Jones seems to have gotten everything in the story as realistic as it could be. Married around 18 months, Roy is accused of assault and rape then sentenced to twelve years. And yes, Roy is in fact 100% innocent. After five years served, Roy’s conviction is overturned and he will be coming home. But things have changed.
The novels capture many things including being torn between a spouse and parent, how little we may actually know about a spouse going into a marriage. Also brought out in the novel are race and class differences, and traditions. Life was not perfect for Celestial and Roy and this accusation uproots and changes everything. At first they communicate via letter, but then things stop. Roy is stuck in the inside of prison while Celestial is still outside living life. And that begins to center around her childhood friend Andre, who was also the best man in their wedding.
Most of the novel centers around this love triangle and what direction(s) it may go. We never know what life will put us through, what may happen, and how we react. You will never know until you find yourself in a particular situation.
This is a gritty and raw read, and I was not sure where the ending was going, but based on each character’s thoughts and actions, it seems like a realistic and authentic ending. Whether you agree with what each of the three main characters did, the ending was satisfying and the novel keeps you thinking, whether you are happy with the endgame decisions or not of the characters.