Review From User :
Update ---I must add one more thought to this review: *The-Book-Cover* is not only lovely -- but now that I've read the book -- I recognize this 'perfect' design is symbolic to this story.
Jewish Kabbalists believe "The Tree of Life" to be a diagrammatic representation of the process by which the Universe came into being".
Jewish Kabbalists also don't envision time and space as pre-existing.
A wonderful -symbolically fitting book cover -- The mysticism of the fortune teller mixed with traditional Jewish beliefs - and the story told in this novel ---adds up to one thing: "The Tree of Life" -- Perfect!!! ..........and "Beautiful"!
Wow....I thought this book was incredible- and I had many reservations about reading it: mixed reviews- etc.
I've lost HOURS of sleep - but this book took my mind off of concerns - and/or included them....which worked too.
To me this was so much more than, "would you like to know the date of your death" - or even, "how you might live your life if you knew" The story of Simon and Klara especially had me turning pages - and I became very interested in the birth of Ruby- wondering how she was going to fit into this story -given that she didn't see the fortune teller.
I didn't think a story could be more sad than Simon's ( the first story) - but not true - I felt the sadness for each one of them - be it regret - grief - fear - anger - guilt - etc.
These characters were distinctive. I felt as though I knew them.
So just spending time with each family member - getting to know them all - the relationships was enough to keep me interested.
Plus, somehow I missed - or nobody mentioned to me - that this was a Jewish Family I learned things about Jewish Law that I had never heard before which was fascinating to me. I never knew the laws about suicide with burial accordance.
Plus I found it fascinating mixing the Jewish faith with a fortune teller - really opened my thinking.
This quote sums up ways I, too, was thinking while reading this novel...
It's an excerpt by the character Klara:
"Perhaps the point is not to resist death. Perhaps the point is that there's no such thing. If Simon and Saul are contacting Klara, then consciousness survives death of the body. If consciousness survives the death of the body, then everything she's been told about death isn't true. And if everything she's been taught isn't true, maybe death is not death at all".
Personally - I think this is one of the best books I've read this year so far - and think it would make an excellent book club discussion pick.
If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?
It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children – four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness – sneak out to hear their fortunes.
Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.