Overall, what do you think of The World Without You?
Join Date: 11/16/10
Join Date: 08/14/11
I really enjoyed reading The World Without You! There were so many different perspectives on family life I was able to peak into; how some families react knowing there is always the back-up of family money, dynamics between siblings, moving on with your life after the loss of a husband and how family members react to that, having a summer home to re-bond with your family during the year, etc. I also enjoyed learning part of the daily life and history of the Jewish faith. I would also like to add that I almost hesitated reading this book because I am not one to stomach war stories, especially with details involved. I was VERY PLEASANTLY surprised to find the war in Iraq took a minor part in the story and the family emotions and love for each other were the main topic.
Join Date: 06/13/11
Enjoyed the book - thought the author did an interesting job of pulling together a typically disfunctional (in the sense that everyone in the world has problems that make them look unfunctional at times) family and building the story around that.
Join Date: 06/18/12
I thought that The World Without You was a very entertaining and thoughtful book. The characters are all intelligent and believable, if not entirely likeable at all times. I love a good novel of dysfunction. These kinds of books, to me, are fascinating to read. Yes, parts are sad, but you seem to know that, though everyone in the book has issues, that they all love each other and care for each other. I thought the saddest character in the book was the father and what he was going through. He never said a lot in words, but said much in his actions. This was a very good book and I would recommend it to people who enjoy novels about family.
Join Date: 06/16/11
I really liked this book and found it dealt with so many issues that are common to all families. The issues of sibling rivalry/jealously related to both birth order and being male or female were all there and portrayed honestly. The long time marriage that is on the rocks a bit is neither sentimentalized nor ignored though the children were united in being both shocked and shaken by it. The differences in life styles and financial status are also accepted but not made to seem particularly important. All of the usual stress factors of a reunion of a family are there but not over dramatized. I think the author showed exemplary restraint and honesty in the telling of this story and leaving you at the end really liking all these people and knowing how much they really care about each other.
Join Date: 05/08/11
This is not a book I would read again. I didn't especially enjoy it and thought the situation and characters were fairly unbelievable and contrived.
Henkin is a good writer and I found myself second guessing his choice of names for the characters. Noelle (named for the birth of Christ) is the ultimate Jew. Thisbe (named for the lover who kills herself when her lover thinks she is dead and commits suicide) not only survives but finds another lover - perhaps a better lover? David (named for the king who makes many mistakes but always returns to God) is solid and seemingly doesn't make mistakes at all. I'm sure there are others.......
Join Date: 01/12/12
Beckyh - perhaps there's a bit of irony in Noelle's Christian-inspired name, since she became Orthodox after she'd been so promiscuous as a teenager. Not sure if this was intentional but it's possible the major characters were named ironically. I didn't think of it until I read your response.
Join Date: 04/14/11
Join Date: 10/01/12
I wanted to enjoy this book more, but like Beckyh, I just found things too pat and contrived. The dialogue was ok. It was overall an OK read. I enjoyed the read, but not sure I would push this into the hands of a colleague and say, You must read this book. Something was missing for me.
Join Date: 04/14/11
I read the entire book and really liked it in the beginning but got bogged down in the middle and was glad when I finished it. I really didn't like or connect with any of the characters and I had a problem understanding the way most of them acted. The only character that I really liked was Thisbe - the rest not so much. I am glad that I read it but would never read it again.
Join Date: 04/15/11
Join Date: 04/20/11
I like the way Joyces expressed her impressions of this book. I also enjoyed reading it and getting to know a bit about each character. Some were "nicer" than others, but that's the way real life is. I thought Marilyn was a bit cold as contrasted to the warmth of David's character. The daughters, plus Thisbe, were an interesting group, each with her own character strengths and flaws. I enjoyed the book throughout.
Join Date: 09/07/12
The entire book being written in forms of present tense was distracting, even a bit annoying to me; I'm not sure why. I wondered whether anyone else particularly noticed this? I would be curious, too, to know if there was a specific reason the author chose that approach.
Join Date: 11/28/11
Join Date: 10/20/10
I thought The World Without You was a marvelous examination of all the different manifestations of grief, and how difficult it is to reach through the shroud of grief especially when the people you would normally reach out to are encased in their own shrouds. Henkin did a wonderful job of delineating the multitude of characters in the book. There were a lot of them, but I kept them straight without having to come up with any devise to remember who was who. The only thing that surprised me was that no one was obsessed with what happened to Leo during his captivity.
Join Date: 05/19/11
I thought the book was very well-written, and I enjoyed reading about the various members of the family. My only real complaint about the book is that there were a lot of loose ends I would have liked resolved after investing a chunk of time reading the book. Like DLPIANO, I was relieved that the book avoided discussing the details of Leo's death.
Join Date: 04/11/11
I liked this book. I thought the author did a good job with character development. I am not sure the details of the death of Leo were even the point of the book. I think the point was how we each are affected differently by the death of someone close. He seem to capture that very well. I would like to read his earlier book for which he received he received a notable recognition from the NY Times.
Join Date: 08/23/11
I was pleasantly surprised by both the writing style and the development of characters in this book. I read it quickly as I wanted to see what was going to happen with each character. They all held my interest. I think this is a book I would recommend to a reading group as there are so many topics for discussion and certainly at least one character that everyone could identify with. This family seemed very real and their problems very believable. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Join Date: 04/28/11
I liked the writing very much as I felt that Joshua Henkin really captured the feelings of loss, not only of Leo, but for the way things were when the family was younger. Initially, after I was finished reading, I was annoyed that all the characters were in a state of upheaval for various reasons, but upon further reflection, I realized that Lily was mostly in a very good place. Even though she was unmarried, she seemed the happiest and most content and had a partner who loved and respected her. Usually the middle child seems to have the hardest time carving out an identity, but as the middle sister, Lily was the most together and seemingly relatable character.
Join Date: 06/23/12
I thoroughly enjoyed "meeting" the members of the Frankel family and felt like I got to know and care about them very quickly as they moved through their everyday life while struggling with their personal problems, secrets, and relationships. There is much food for thought in this book from the aftermath of war to the complexities and strength of family ties and it would be an ideal selection for book clubs.
Join Date: 07/18/11
A strength of any novel is taking readers into the created world and Henkel certainly does this, although
at first I thought that this would be another one of those books that has to have all the current character types. However, as I got to know the Frankels andtheir extended family, I found that I knew these people. I saw myself-- a sister, mother, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and my children and grandchildren. We are all there in Henkel's book.
Another strength is that all the problems of the various members of the family are not solved but they have been dealt with or at least recognized. I left the book thinking that "this is what life is like."
While this has nothing to do with the book I have to mention that I had one of those "oh my" moments when Noelle says that Amram had attended Oneonta State College. I did too during the four years that my family lived in Oneonta.
Join Date: 04/21/11
Join Date: 05/12/11
I enjoyed the book but thought it was just okay. I didn't connect emotionally with any of the characters. Being Jewish I could relate to the family pretty well there, especially with Noelle's "frumness" and how she could use it to disrupt the family. I felt Thisbe was lucky to be getting somewhat out of the family. I was intrigued enough with the author's writing that I got his book "Swimming Across the Hudson".
Join Date: 12/03/11
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The more I think about "The World Without You" the better I like it. On some of the other threads, I see that many of us are reacting to the characters as if they were real people. I think this is one of the things that makes the book so good: the reader starts to think of the characters as people, not as fictional creations. I thought Henkin did a remarkable job of capturing the various ways people grieve, and the ways they get on with their lives while still grieving. The individuality of the characters was well-drawn. Henkin must be a keen observer of people. I see from the dedication that Henkin's father died in 2010; the author must then have been dealing with some of his own grief as he wrote the book, and that may be one of the reasons the world of this novel seems so real to the reader.
Join Date: 05/09/11
Join Date: 04/17/11
I really enjoyed it and become entangled in the women's lives so much so that I keep wondering what is happening to them today. Like so many readers, I am impressed by Josh Henkin's ability to write from a woman's perspective with such clarity and empathy. His ability to craft this family in crisis is amazing. I look forward to his future successes.
Join Date: 01/16/12
This was a somewhat difficult book for me on many levels and while I could speak volumes about it ill try to be brief. First, I'm the mother of three girls. The older two were very close while the third was cut out and felt it. I could understand acting out, but I had a hard time with her promiscuity. I understand that the loss of a child often results in divorce, but couldn't see any reason for Marilyn seeking to end her marriage to David. I didn't particularly care for Amram Or Noelle His lack of responsibility in running off particularly during this emotional time for his wife was unjustifiable. Her turning to orthodoxy made me question whether this was an act of atonement for her promiscuity. Her refusal to accept her mothers attempts to accommodate her dietary restrictions reminded me of how my third daughter would act out as a child to try to get the attention that her siblings denied her. While fertility problems are gut wrenching I could sympathize with until it was explained that she was reluctant to have a child initially. It seemed to become more important to her when she started having difficulty conceiving. Of all the characters, my favorite was Thisbe. She was the most real and the most sympathetic. Her refusal to accept Gretchen's money was indicative of her strong moral fiber
Join Date: 04/14/11
Join Date: 04/28/11
Overall, I thought the book was a good examination of the different stages of grief and how family members can help each other or hinder the grieving process. I used to be a hospice volunteer and saw that it's often hard for some to remember that it's so important to let people grieve in their own way and in their own timing and not judge--especially within a family that's close.
I thought it was interesting that Henkin decided to bring this far-flung family together for the one year anniversary of Leo's death to show how each member's grieving can affect the others in a family over time.
I will definitely recommend this book to friends and my book clubs.
Join Date: 05/08/11
I've given this book a lot of thought in the last few weeks. I had read Matrimony and not liked it very much - too depressing - so I didn't request this book right away. I decided to give Henkin another chance and read this one carefully. I have decided I like his writing ability. He is a great wordsmith. That said, I don't like his books very much. His characters are too damaged and don't seem able to move on or cope with their dysfunction (see Noelle). Overall I find his novels dispiriting. I prefer to read books that allow for an uplift to the human spirit. That is not to say I want a "happy ending," I just want a note of hope. This book doesn't do that.
Join Date: 12/04/11
Join Date: 10/26/12
I loved the book. It felt as if I was watching a movie. The characters are very well developed and I mourned the loss of Leo. I believe this author did a wonderful job of creating the dynamics of family, the fact that even though brothers and sisters come from the same womb, they are often totally different and sometimes become estranged, especially after they marry. I would recommend it for book groups, it was a fast read because it was totally enjoyable and fast paced.
Join Date: 01/19/12
Found pleasure in reading this character driven novel. Liked the multiple narrators so we, the readers, got a glimpse of family dynamics through many perceptions. Also liked that we learned via first person how characters dealt with personal grief.
Rate this book 3 stars on a scale of 1-5. The storyline and prose earned 4 stars until, imo, the author lost a star for throwing in unbelievable part that Amram able to convince Gretchen to come to the cottage for a few hours. Would have been credible for Marilyn to change her mind about marital separation solely based on experience of family gathering.
Join Date: 06/13/11
I found it a bit hard to get started but once reading I was involved and what would happen to the characters. I'm not sure that some of my friends would have liked it as the events were downers. I liked his writing, I felt like I was at the house and in the town. It was interesting how he was telling a current story but bringing in the past and how the family had grown. I was glad that Marilyn and David were gettin.g back together and liked the way the author jumped ahead a year or so to show that they were. All in all it was a good read and I will recommend it to some members of my reading group
Join Date: 09/15/12
I read this book when it first came out it in hardcover. Everyone in my book club loved it. I am a voracious reader and often forget a book after reading several others. There are, however, some books I remember well, and this is one of them. It is very well-written and contains many situations ripe for discussion: family relationships, sibling relationships, interfaith marriage, religious differences. How do early life experiences affect you, whether shaping who you become as an adult or as something to escape from (e.g., Noelle)? I have recommended this book to many people, and no one has yet to berate me for it! Perhaps being Jewish made it a bit more relevant to me, but I don’t think so. There is a universality to the book that should resonate with most readers.
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