Customer Reviews for

The World Without You: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
( 47 )
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(15)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

22 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

I was not sure if I should read this book or not because it very

I was not sure if I should read this book or not because it very much reflects my own life. My son was also killed in Iraq in 2005. Our family (which consists of 3 daughters and another son) will simply never be the same - my husband and I have a relationship that mim...
I was not sure if I should read this book or not because it very much reflects my own life. My son was also killed in Iraq in 2005. Our family (which consists of 3 daughters and another son) will simply never be the same - my husband and I have a relationship that mimics David's and Marilyn's. Shall I stay or shall I go? I highlighted so much of this book because so much of it rang true. I hit tennis balls with the same vengeance that Marilyn does - an exorcism of sorts, I suspect. I wrote letters, visited congressmen, spoke at anti-war events for the first couple of years... and then I just felt defeated. My husband works, at his job - but not with the same commitment that he once had. After all, Michael was supposed to take over the business. He is physically always in motion - fixing and CHOPPING, just like David. My girls run - for themselves and for Michael.
I am quite amazed that Joshua Henkins could capture the emotions that he does in this novel - but I related to every page that he wrote.

posted by cider12 on July 12, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

19 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

Three years ago, our book club had an opportunity to chat with J

Three years ago, our book club had an opportunity to chat with Joshua Henkin and discuss his book MATRIMONY. We had a great time chatting and discussing the book with him and also talking about writing in general. When Joshua Henkin contacted me to read and review his...
Three years ago, our book club had an opportunity to chat with Joshua Henkin and discuss his book MATRIMONY. We had a great time chatting and discussing the book with him and also talking about writing in general. When Joshua Henkin contacted me to read and review his newest novel, I jumped at the chance.

I was drawn into the family's different levels of dysfunction as well as their grief over the loss of their son and brother. But, what I wasn't drawn into was the overt liberal rhetoric throughout the novel. The Bush-Hate was so strong and blatant that it actually started to turn me off on the novel. It made me wonder if this was the author's way to get his political views out to the world. I understand there are people in our country who have strong opinions about the war and it was definitely feasible that the characters in this story would feel this way. But, it felt over the top at times. For those with a conservative view, it could be a turn-off.

I tried to ignore the political talk and focus instead on the family dynamics and the characters individual stories. The level of grief each family member was feeling was very real for me and I felt their pain and hesitations with each other. Their stories were well written and developed and I felt a connection to each one.

If you are looking for a story with a huge climax and page-turning drama, this won't be for you. But if you are looking for a relaxing family story for a lazy summer day, this would be a great choice.

posted by SincerelyStacie on June 19, 2012

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  • Posted July 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I was not sure if I should read this book or not because it very

    I was not sure if I should read this book or not because it very much reflects my own life. My son was also killed in Iraq in 2005. Our family (which consists of 3 daughters and another son) will simply never be the same - my husband and I have a relationship that mimics David's and Marilyn's. Shall I stay or shall I go? I highlighted so much of this book because so much of it rang true. I hit tennis balls with the same vengeance that Marilyn does - an exorcism of sorts, I suspect. I wrote letters, visited congressmen, spoke at anti-war events for the first couple of years... and then I just felt defeated. My husband works, at his job - but not with the same commitment that he once had. After all, Michael was supposed to take over the business. He is physically always in motion - fixing and CHOPPING, just like David. My girls run - for themselves and for Michael.
    I am quite amazed that Joshua Henkins could capture the emotions that he does in this novel - but I related to every page that he wrote.

    22 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 19, 2012

    Three years ago, our book club had an opportunity to chat with J

    Three years ago, our book club had an opportunity to chat with Joshua Henkin and discuss his book MATRIMONY. We had a great time chatting and discussing the book with him and also talking about writing in general. When Joshua Henkin contacted me to read and review his newest novel, I jumped at the chance.

    I was drawn into the family's different levels of dysfunction as well as their grief over the loss of their son and brother. But, what I wasn't drawn into was the overt liberal rhetoric throughout the novel. The Bush-Hate was so strong and blatant that it actually started to turn me off on the novel. It made me wonder if this was the author's way to get his political views out to the world. I understand there are people in our country who have strong opinions about the war and it was definitely feasible that the characters in this story would feel this way. But, it felt over the top at times. For those with a conservative view, it could be a turn-off.

    I tried to ignore the political talk and focus instead on the family dynamics and the characters individual stories. The level of grief each family member was feeling was very real for me and I felt their pain and hesitations with each other. Their stories were well written and developed and I felt a connection to each one.

    If you are looking for a story with a huge climax and page-turning drama, this won't be for you. But if you are looking for a relaxing family story for a lazy summer day, this would be a great choice.

    19 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2012

    I haven't read the book and don't intend to now that I read the

    I haven't read the book and don't intend to now that I read the review by book club mom. I was planning to read it, I like a good dysfunctional family story. But to hear that is so politically biased turned me off. and I'm not even conservative. But I hate when writers of novels dilute their work with their own political bias. Why not write nonfiction then?

    11 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    Why do they do this

    Politics made me put this book down. It could have been good.......but l don't care about your political views as an author. I stopped going to concerts of some of my favorite groups for the same reason .

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2012

    Vivid, well-drawn characters, but this book really drags. No fre

    Vivid, well-drawn characters, but this book really drags. No fresh insights. Ultimately it's kind of boring.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2012

    Xxcc

    I DONT GET WHY PEOPLE HAVE TO WRITE THE WHOLE STORY IN A BOOK REVIEW!! YOUR SUPPOSED TO SAY IF U LIKE IT OR NOT.... NOT GIVE AWAY THE WHOLE STORY!!! STOP ALRRADY

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    Whiny

    I am at page 200. The Bush thing is so old and boring. The daughters are so yucky. The family involved are so tiresome after a few chapters. Gone Girl is my favorite so far. Maybe !eo offed himself so he wouldnt have to deal with his sisters.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Boring

    I was determined to finish this book though I lost interest early on. During my last attempt I looked for the page number I was on and I was only on page 72 (not half through). I love to read and enjoy different type books. This was one of the few I just could not finish.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    Joshua Henkin's book, The World Without You, the sentences-the c

    Joshua Henkin's book, The World Without You, the sentences-the craft of writing-disappear. I had trouble picking out moments when the point of view in the book shifted from character to character, let alone picking out a stand-out sentence. The writing is almost invisible here, and so it transports the reader. I spent the better part of last weekend on the couch with this book, but although I was on a couch in Queens, I felt like I was in a vacation house in the Berkshires over the 4th of July, getting ready for a memorial service for my journalist brother/husband/son who'd been killed in Iraq. I was immersed. Josh's writing disappears so that the experience is seamless-you open his book and you suddenly aren't you anymore. You're in his world. Tricky word play would pull the reader right out and despite the sadness pervasive in this book, I'll bet that when you read it you'd rather be in than out.

    One of the delicious aspects of this book is that the reader alone is privy to both what is in each of the characters' heads and hearts as well as what they think of, and say about, each other. The reader becomes the one trusted confident in a tense household of people who love each other and yet withhold their full selves.

    The magical construction of this book-how did the points of view shift so often, without being confusing, often mid-chapter?-impressed me, as did Josh's incredible imagination. This isn't fight-to-the-death, wizards and sparkly vampire sort of imagination (do I sound old and grumpy with that? also can you tell I haven't read any of those books?), but it is imagination that creates whole worlds nonetheless. Each character in the novel-and there are many-had a fully realized past, present and in some cases, future. I guarantee that if you asked Josh to recount each sisters' high school report card, he could do it-he'd know what each girl was best at, he'd also know where she'd have sat in a room if she had a choice, who she dated, what kinds of other girls she was friends with and probably what she loved to eat for snack. The details all mattered-these were real people to me as I was reading about them. So real that their small dramas mattered to me like my friends' dramas do, or even like my own do. There was a big, important, political and tragic death at the heart of this novel, but orbiting it were many medium-sized tragedies (infertility, divorce) and tiny ones, too (bonding moments thwarted, feelings hurt).

    There's a real treat on the last page of this novel, which I won't give away, but it is a leap that felt like a gift from Josh to his readers, many of whom, like me, were (will be!) probably very sorry to finish his book. It was a gift that let me imagine that these characters didn't finish living when I finished reading them, but continue on, somewhere in the world.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2013

    Not Bad, Not Amazing

    An interesting read. The problem is, it doesn't really go anywhere. I was waiting for a big thing to happen, and it never really does, just falls flat. I also had a lot of trouble keeping track of two out of the three daughters, only one out of the three really made an impression and I totally knew her story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    Not really worth your time

    Too lengthy and boring

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Poignant. Heartbreaking. Touching. There are a lot of words I co

    Poignant. Heartbreaking. Touching. There are a lot of words I could use to describe this book, but the one that seems the most applicable is familiar. This is not because I can identify or even begin to imagine what the family has been through, but because the characters were all so very approachable. Rarely does a book draw the reader into the folds of its story so seamlessly as this one does.




    The World Without You is about a family that is falling apart after the death of their son, brother and husband, Leo. Captured and killed while working as a journalist in Iraq, Leo’s funeral was overridden by the press one year earlier and the family has chosen to memorialize him in a small ceremony in his favorite Berkshires town in Massachusetts. Told through alternating perspectives, The World Without You holds nothing back in its portrayal of a family that is slowly disintegrating.




    The author, Joshua Henkin, does a wonderful job of navigating the waters of real family battles while respecting the perspectives of each. There were no favorites, nor were there any overly dramatic moments to sully the underlying tone of authenticity.What I love about this book is that it is relatable. Anyone who has argued with siblings or felt chastised by in-laws will be able to identify with this book, whether or not they have lost a close family member. It oozes sincerity without the cheesiness that often accompanies that emotion, and it has moved into one of my favorite books of the year.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2013

    i think the the book was flat.  i could certainly identify w/ th

    i think the the book was flat.  i could certainly identify w/ this family's dysfunctionality but that's the book.  most of the characters were well developed but the storyline just didn't excite me. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    Good read

    A nice read that keeps you coming back for ore.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2013

    Ok

    This book had a great premise with the making of a really good story, unfortunatly it feel very flat. The writing style was very disjointed, the characters unbeleivable, didn't connect with any of them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2013

    Quiet, in the best way

    An honest, quiet picture of family dynamics from so many angles. Reminded me a lot of "This is Where I Leave You" by Jonothan Tropper, but more subdued....not depressing, just thoughtful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    Stunning

    Every once in a while you find a book written in such a way that you want to savor it...make it last...like an excellent meal...small bites. This is one of those books.

    It is a family drama. They are anti-Bush WITH GOOD REASON as shown in the narrative. The story focuses on The World Without You...the You being Leo Frankel, a journalist taken hostage and killed in Iraq. It is a year later and his family gather for a memorial service.

    It is a novel about fictional characters but I will miss the extended Frankel family. Their story is delicious.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2012

    Highly recommended

    A very enjoyable beautiful book about family and LOVE!!

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  • Posted September 14, 2012

    This is a book about a family coming to terms with the loss of a

    This is a book about a family coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. The Frankel fsmily gather at their home summer home in the Berkshires a year after their son and brother, a journalist was killed in Iraq. Leo's widow and son alson join them. They are each still in pain and it is also affecting their personal lives and relationships. This was a well-written storyline with characters that could be your own family.

    Thank you Net Galley and Pantheon Books.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Some books are all about plot, some are more character studies.

    Some books are all about plot, some are more character studies. Joshua Henkin's novel, The World Without You falls in the latter category.

    The Frankel family, father David and mother Marilyn, are preparing for the arrival of their three daughters, Lily, Clarissa and Noelle, along with their spouses and children, and their daughter-in-law Thisbe with her young son for a memorial service for their son Leo, a journalist murdered last year covering the Iraq War.

    The story revolves around how Leo's death has affected the family. Marilyn, a doctor, turned outward; she consistently wrote op-ed pieces for newspapers against the war and worked on John Kerry's presidential campaign. David turned inward, taking up running to deal with his loss.

    Marilyn decides that it is too painful to stay married to David and asks him for a divorce; he is devastated by the request. Marilyn intends to tell the family while they are visiting for the memorial, and they are completely blindsided by this announcement.

    Henkin makes this characters so real that reading this novel felt like I was eavesdropping on this family during a particularly tough time. They are complicated people, who make mistakes and love and fight and misunderstand and are misunderstood; you know, just like your own family.

    "Noelle is her sister, but the fact is they can't stand each other, and when Lily feels uncomfortable she goes for high drama; histrionics is her point at rest."
    After a wild, promiscuous adolescence, Noelle moved to Israel, married and became an Orthodox Jew, closely following all rules. She felt that "she was peeling layers of herself, molting an identity she had wanted to molt for years and hadn't realized she was capable of molting."

    Clarissa "didn't say a word until she turned three, at which point she began to speak in full sentences. She suspects the story is exaggerated, but it gets at an essential truth about her." Lily "throws herself into things, whereas (Clarissa's) a watcher, she's cautious, she's a student first and she doesn't like to make mistakes."

    Henkin's describes his characters as they see themselves and as they are seen by the people who knew them best- their siblings. Anyone with siblings will get that right away.

    Thisbe describes what it's like to be a widow:
    "Everyone, she thinks, wants to know about the milestones- Leo's birthday, their anniversary- those are hard, of course, but it's the everyday things that are the toughest. When she used to shop for groceries, she would get this cereal Leo liked, Great Grains Raisins, Dates and Pecans, and she mustn't have been thinking because a couple of months she ended up with a box in her shopping cart."
    Describing what's it's like to become part of the Frankels, Thisbe says:
    "That's one of the things that appealed to me about Leo- the tumult of you Frankels, as if in your presence I am being swallowed by a many-tentacled beast and made into a tentacle myself. Clarissa, Lily and Noelle- you were older by the time I came along, but I still felt that in marrying Leo I was getting you as sisters and when he died, I lost you too. I know that losing a husband is different from losing a sibling, and it's especially different from losing a son."
    That paragraph states the theme of this beautiful, insightful novel- loss is different for everyone, and in The World Without You, we see how parents, siblings and spouses deal with that loss and the life that goes on.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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