Tell Me How This Ends Well
David Samuel Levinson
Darkly comic, disturbingly prescient, and incredibly accomplished, Tell Me How This Ends Well interweaves the stories of this very troubled family into a rare and compelling exploration of the state of America itself.
Why is tonight different from all other nights?
Tonight we kill dad.
In 2022, American Jews face an increasingly unsafe and anti-Semitic landscape at home. Against this backdrop, the Jacobson family gathers for Passover in Los Angeles. But their immediate problems are more personal than political, with the three adult children, Mo, Edith, and Jacob, in various states of crisis, the result, each claims, of a lifetime of mistreatment by their father, Julian. The siblings have begun to suspect that Julian is hastening their mother Roz's demise, and years of resentment boil over as they debate whether to go through with the real reason for their reunion: an ill-considered plot to end their father’s iron rule for good. That is, if they can put their bickering, grudges, festering relationships, and distrust of one another aside long enough to act.
And God help them if their mother finds out . . .
Tell Me How This Ends Well presents a blistering and prescient vision of the near future, turning the exploits of one very funny, very troubled family into a rare and compelling exploration of the state of America, and what it could become.
Advance Galley Reviews
Wow is one word to describe this book.
Set just 5 years from now (April 2022), Tell Me How This Ends Well tells the story of the Jacobson family, a jewish family living in an America that is slowly turning into a Nazi Germany-lite. They aren't being dragged off to camps but they are dealing with an increase in attacks against them from suicide bombers (yes, in the US) to have slurs written on their homes to discrimination in a number of ways. The family is gathering for Passover, the first time they've been together in a while as the youngest son of the Jacobson clan has being living Germany for a few years.
Told in 3 very long chapter (100 plus pages each), one slightly shorter chapter (about 50 pages), and one normal sized chapter (about 15 pages), we follow each of the Jacobson children, Moses, Edith, & the unfortunately named Jacob Jacobson (seriously, who does this?) and their mother, Roz as they each navigate a weekend that will ultimately change their lives.
The children have all gathered to not only be together in what may be the final days of their mother's life but to kill their father. Yes, they want to kill their overbearing unloving father. Reading some of the memories of life with their father and even seeing how he treats them now, it isn't too surprising they want to end his life. Each of the children has their own reason and their own doubts about what they want to do.
The Jacobson are not perfect people. They are flawed, each in their own ways mostly due to the treatment they received at the hands of their father and husband. He treated, or rather mistreated, them all differently. Did he deserve their wrath? Yeah, probably.
While I did enjoy this book, I think it would've benefited from being broken down a bit more. Within each section (each one following a different character though never in the first person) there are flashbacks as well as moments in the present and I feel it would've helped with the flow and understanding if these were split up into separate chapters.
Its frightening to imagine a world like the one depicted in the background this book, where a select group of people are terrorized but it seems like we are heading more and more down that road each day as people allow hate to rule them and they turn to violence to show their hatred. You see it in the news every day and while it may not be based on religion, racial violence seems to be taking over our country. In fate, as I was reading this book, a terror attack happened in London. Can we ever hope to live in a world were people don't want to kill? Doubtful but it would be nice.
The book is a bit long and I think could be shorter. it meanders a bit, but the basic premise is that these 3 adult siblings are going to kill their father since he's a miserable excuse for a human being who has made their lives hell to give their mother (who is dying from a terminal disease) a break. The family is Jewish and there's a lot of anti-Semitic violence going on in the book so they have a scapegoat to blame for his death. The dialogue is realistic and sad and makes you think about all the things from our childhood that we drag I to adulthood that shapes who we are.
This was an interesting book - I ended up liking it much more than I expected. It's the story of the Jacobson family and takes place in 2022 but hatred for Jews in the US is now rampant. However, the focus of the story is the Jacobson siblings hatred for their cruel father. They plan to kill him over Passover weekend to finally give their dying mother some peace. Each section is from a different family member's perspective and gives you some insight into their reasoning and how their father's treatment of them affected their lives as adults. I enjoyed the author's style of writing and would definitely read more by him.
This is unequivocally like nothing I've read before. Really still processing, which probably means like broccoli, I learned to like it.
This was the first book I have read from this author and like that it takes place in 2022 which is the not too distant future. I liked that the book was told from the viewpoint of each of the children and the mother. It made it easier to relate to what kind of tyranny that the family faced at the hand of their father. The resentment builds until they decide that Roz should be able to appreciate and enjoy her time that she has left to live. Unfortunately loose lips sank ships, and Jacob's partner tells Roz about the plan. Everything falls apart as a consequence. It is not hard to see that the future could be more full of bigotry and racism than it is now. I enjoyed the humor of this book and would like to read more from this author.
It's not difficult to fathom that a few years into the future, the world will be an uncomfortable place to live in, with limited resources and groups coming to harm after being targeted by hateful people, as the world has already shifted to reflect this scenario. Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel Levinson depicts the 2022 reunion of a dysfunctional family in Los Angeles during Passover.
The Jacobsons have had conflicting experiences with and emotions about the family patriarch Julian Jacobson. His wife Roz has withstood his moods and his control over her money for years, but with her recent terminal medical prognosis, questions about her rapid demise arise from her children. Moses, Edith, and Jacob, the adult Jacobson children, all have varying recollections of how their father treated them, but a majority of their opinions of him are negative - so much so that they're colluding to kill him to free their mother, and themselves, from his manipulative tyranny; however, in order to be successful, the children first to have to get along among themselves.
Family dysfunction is a topic rife with nuances to explore, on both the collective and individual level, which the narrative explores and develops fairly well. The story was not as funny or compelling as the synopsis had me thinking it'd be; however, there were amusing aspects to the tale that kept me entertained and interested enough to read further. There's an attempt to cover a lot of ground throughout this book: anti-Semitism, personal and familial dysfunction, and a murderous plot. Each of these aspects is a lot to address individually, but trying to address them all made the narrative feel a bit forced or unbelievable while sacrificing the potential for some serious conversations to be started with some of the thought-provoking ideas presented.
Overall, I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars.