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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Book Review: Eternal Life by Dara Horn

“… what are the odds that my granddaughter is the one doing this research? My granddaughter, of all the people in the entire world?”

” the odds of that are exactly 100%… Eventually everything will happen to us. You know that, Rachel. Your job is to never be surprised.”

What a gorgeous, imaginative, thoughtful, evocative story this was! I really love Horn’s writing style – and don’t know how I’ve not read her before – it’s full of marvelous encapsulations of what it means to live, to love, and to exist that are delicate and deft and woven so perfectly into the narration that the meaning sneaks up on you like a child in the night…

I’ve read a number of books about the perils of eternity, and frankly the theme has been feeling a bit stale. I get it – watching everyone you know and love die would be tragic and horrible in its monotony. I even agree – I don’t want to live forever – I agree with the wisdom that says life is in the details and the change and possibility, and when nothing ever ends, there’s never any risk or reward to come from risk.

Reading about that ennui often generates it, and I was a little nervous starting this one as a result (I just had to shelf a title unfinished because of this exact problem). Then I started reading Horn’s lovely story and could not put it down. It’s so well managed – the ennui is still there, but it doesn’t translate to the reader’s experience of the book – it is limited to the characters’, and that keeps things exactly in the perspective they need to be for a story of this type. The characters were marvelous; it helps, no doubt, that I don’t know a lot of Jewish history, so the background was new material for me and very interesting for that newness. And it surprised me how relevant and current the contemporary portions of the novel were – yet how resonant they felt with the history.

“She looked at her little boy with sudden and frightening understanding: her entire life, every person’s entire life, was a stupid version of the real story, a tiny glimpse of a tiny sliver of the briefest of moments, a few days out of eternity.”

This really was a great melding of old and new, to tell a timeless and beautiful tale of life, love, and loss and the importance of balancing all three…

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