Four siblings with the last name Gold, travel to see a psychic they’ve heard tales about. A women who can tell them the date on which they will die. Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya leave her rooms with a date spinning around in their heads, a date that may be in a few years or one that may not be for a few decades.
The premise of the book looks like it’s addressing how each child would live their lives if they believed in their death date. What the book really asks is do we ourselves have control over the decisions we each make, or does fate have its way no matter what?
This book was well-written, thought-provoking and unique. But it wasn’t cohesive, nor well balanced. Each section follows a different Gold sibling as he or she grapples with whether the date given to them is real or fake, whether it should define their lives or not.
The first section is the strongest, following Simon as he and Clara move from New York to San Francisco. It’s in San Fran that Simon can truly explore his sexuality and figure who he is and where he fits in. His story is riveting, heartfelt and heartbreaking. I wanted to stay in Simon’s story much longer.
Second we learn about Klara, as she tries to make it as a magician and performer, meeting a man and falling in love and the happiness and strife that comes with growing up while wanting to pursue a different path. Klara was a captivating character, but at times her story seemed to fantastical, too different from the (mostly) very real situations Simon found himself in. She takes her fate into her own hands, but at what cost?
Then comes Daniel’s chapter, the weakest of the bunch. I feel like I still don’t understand Daniel as a character, and his obsession with the psychic seems forced. He was the most underdeveloped and least interesting of the four siblings.
Last we get to Varya, the most bookish child who now works in medical research with monkeys. Varya is the sibling who plays it the most safe, but her plot line also seems to veer into a forced direction.
The jumps from sibling to sibling are a bit jarring, as each leads such a drastically different life and reacts to their death date in very different ways. I just in the end didn’t get invested enough in anyone but Daniel, and found the novel too unbalanced to really enjoy.
Three of five stars.