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Name : Aron S.

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Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Dramatic
The Center is Gone and the Frankel Family is Adrift

Joshua Henkin's latest book The World Without You is a portrait of a family reverberating from the death of the youngest sibling and only son Leo, who was a journalist in Iraq. Henkin quickly draws us into the swirling, emotional whirlpool of the Frankel family.

This book takes place over the July 4th holiday in 2005, one year after Leo's death, and he is the long shadow over the family (and the primary You in the book's title).
Leo's parents, his 3 older sisters with their families, and his widow with her 3-year-old son, all converge on Lenox, a Western Massachusetts town where the Frankel family have a summer house, for a memorial service on the anniversary of Leo's death.

The Frankel family is going through a theme park full of emotional roller coasters, many triggered or acerbated by Leo's passing.

His parents Marilyn and David are splitting up. His eldest sister and her husband - Clarissa and Nathaniel, have decided after Leo's death to have a child, but are encountering the usual late 30's fertility issues. The middle sister Lily has come up from Washington without her live-in boyfriend (neither the formality of marriage or children appear on the horizon), and the youngest sister Noelle, had 10 years earlier transitioned from promiscuous hell-raiser to orthodox Jewish wife in Israel raising 4 boys with a mostly, but not entirely nebbish husband. Leo's widow Thisbe is conflicted as to how to communicate to her in-laws that she has begun to move on with her life.

In titling his book, The World Without You, Henkin of course is referring to the deceased Leo, but the meanings unfold as each set of couple undergoes various stresses and strains. We see the "You" also refers to spouses and partners as the various couples become separated spatially or emotionally and are forced to re-evaluate their relationships.

The World Without You not only whisks the reader away to a fascinating story, but shines a light on our own world, and helps us to understand it a little better.

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