The World Without You by Joshua Henkin

94%

30 Critic Reviews

“The World Without You” shows how loss forces people to reconceive of themselves, a painful but necessary ­transformation.
-NY Times

Synopsis

***National Jewish Book Awards 2012, Finalist***
      JJ Greenberg Memorial Award for Fiction

From the author of the New York Times Notable Book Matrimony ["Beautiful . . . Brilliant."—Michael Cunningham], a moving, mesmerizing new novel about love, loss, and the aftermath of a family tragedy.

It’s July 4, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this is no ordinary holiday. The family has gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings, an intrepid journalist and adventurer who was killed on that day in 2004, while on assignment in Iraq.

The parents, Marilyn and David, are adrift in grief. Their forty-year marriage is falling apart. Clarissa, the eldest sibling and a former cello prodigy, has settled into an ambivalent domesticity and is struggling at age thirty-nine to become pregnant. Lily, a fiery-tempered lawyer and the family contrarian, is angry at everyone. And Noelle, whose teenage years were shadowed by promiscuity and school expulsions, has moved to Jerusalem and become a born-again Orthodox Jew. The last person to see Leo alive, Noelle has flown back for the memorial with her husband and four children, but she feels entirely out of place. And Thisbe —Leo’s widow and mother of their three-year-old son—has come from California bearing her own secret.

Set against the backdrop of Independence Day and the Iraq War, The World Without You is a novel about sibling rivalries and marital feuds, about volatile women and silent men, and, ultimately, about the true meaning of family.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Joshua Henkin

See more books from this Author
Joshua Henkin is the author of the novel Swimming Across the Hudson, which was selected by the Los Angeles Times as a notable book of the year; his short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in many journals and newspapers. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, Brooklyn College, and the 92nd Street Y in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn; visit him online at www.joshuahenkin.com.
 
Published June 19, 2012 by Vintage. 338 pages
Genres: Other, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The World Without You
All: 30 | Positive: 30 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jun 01 2012

A novel that satisfies all expectations in some very familiar ways.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Malena Watrous on Oct 26 2012

“The World Without You” shows how loss forces people to reconceive of themselves, a painful but necessary ­transformation.

Read Full Review of The World Without You | See more reviews from NY Times

NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Jane Ciabattari on Jun 27 2012

The most powerful and unexpected effect in this compassionate and beguiling novel is not what it tells us about Leo and his final days, but how much Henkin makes us care about those he has left behind.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Magras on Jun 22 2012

For a modern-day family drama to work, it needs many intersecting conflicts and richly drawn characters. In that respect, THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU is a generous work of literature.

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Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Jackie Reitzes on Jul 14 2012

...is less an elegy to the lost son than a tribute to those who remain.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Entertainment Weekly on Jun 15 2012

Tenderness spills from these pages — so much so that the reader misses Leo too.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Wendy Smith on Jul 12 2012

...is essentially a quiet, reflective book. Henkin is a pleasingly old-fashioned novelist who takes his time in exploring his characters’ emotions and their fraught connections to one another.

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Huffington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Nina Sankovitch on Jun 18 2012

...is a compelling novel, an engaging and thoughtful exploration of the nature of family amidst the crisis of terrible loss.

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The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by Caroline Leavitt on Jul 22 2012

Gorgeously written, and as beautifully detailed as a tapestry, Henkin delicately probes what these family members really mean to one another.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Glenn Altschuler on Jul 09 2012

...reminds us that families are icebergs, with nine-tenths of their emotions just below the surface, capable of wreaking havoc when struck.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Wingate Packard on Jul 06 2012

This is a deeply woven and affecting novel about grief and its effects on the lives going forward.

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Denver Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Robin Vidimos on Jun 24 2012

Henkin juggles this large cast of characters with ease, telling a poignant story while maintaining each unique identity.

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Newsday

Excellent
Reviewed by Marion Winik on Jun 14 2012

From the aging, defeated patriarch to the innocent 3-year-old...Henkin depicts each in terms of his or her response to loss, both its damage and its unfolding trajectory.

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NY Daily News

Excellent
Reviewed by PETER ENZINNA on Jun 20 2012

Henkin inhabits each character with ease and vibrancy, hopping from one point of view to the other skillfully and rapidly.

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The Rumpus

Excellent
Reviewed by BEZALEL STERN on Jul 03 2012

...if she would have to spend Shabbat with her non-Shabbat observing family. It is touches like this that make the novel real, and that ultimately imbue it with the meaning and character that make it powerful.

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Fiction Writers Review

Excellent
Reviewed by GREGORY PARKER on Jun 18 2012

Henkin presents an admirable, loving sketch of a wealthy, educated, American family that uses the word “summer” as a verb and has experienced its fair share of turmoil and tragedy.

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Three Guys One Book

Excellent
Reviewed by Dennis Haritou on Jun 06 2012

It’s all about who you’re with or all about who you are not with. That’s what this great breakout novel is telling us.

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Philly.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Frank Wilson on Jun 24 2012

...the bits and pieces of choice and circumstance, fortune and misfortune, that make up the mosaic of each individual's life, is what this subtle and ingenious novel is about.

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Commentary

Excellent
Reviewed by D. Myers on Jun 19 2012

Much of the novel’s pleasure comes from getting to know each member of the family.

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Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Excellent
Reviewed by Joe Winkler on Jun 19 2012

The book itself, a quiet, subtle stunner shows off the manifold talents of the author through the most artistic way possible: in his trick of invisibility, of non-existence on the page.

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Tablet Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Adam Kirsch on Jun 06 2012

The World Without You draws the reader into those lives quietly but seductively and confirms that Henkin is a novelist of distinguished gifts.

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Haaretz.

Excellent
Reviewed by Shana Rosenblatt Mauer

...it is an old-fashioned story about the love, happiness, tension and anger that can inform family relationships.

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Lit Lovers

Good
Reviewed by Molly Lundquist on Sep 01 2012

This is a beautiful, poignant, and at times even funny read.

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Sophisticated Dorkiness

Good
Reviewed by Kim on Jun 20 2012

By the time I closed the last page, I felt like I had known the Frankel family for years, like I had been a guest at their kitchen table each summer and seen this family grow together then splinter apart after Leo’s death.

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The Bluestocking Society

Good
Reviewed by Jessica on Jun 10 2012

Henkin breathed so much life into them, I wanted to beat them, and hug them, and cry with them.

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Chicks Dig Books

Good
Reviewed by Jen on May 28 2012

A great book for anyone who’s looking for a dramatic story with well-formed characters.

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Opinionless

Good
Reviewed by Aaron on Jul 27 2012

...is a poignant affair, filled with complex, multifaceted characters that Henkin lovingly breathes life into by way of realistic, engaging prose.

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Tutu's Two Cents

Good
Reviewed by Tina on Jun 19 2012

It's hopeful, graceful, sorrowful, damning and affirming all at once.

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Joystory

Good
Reviewed by Joy Renee on Jun 23 2012

If this story was fiber art it would be a large tapestry depicting hundreds of scenes from an extended family's life in petite point with a pallet of several dozen colors...

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BIG OTHER

Good
Reviewed by Paula Bomer on Jun 07 2012

...is a classically constructed book, with a rich narrative, plotted over the long weekend of the Fourth of July, a year after the Frankel family lost their only son, Leo, a journalist killed in Iraq, and the only brother to three sisters.

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