Hogarth Press, 2017; 416 pages
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.
I received my copy of Tell Me How This Ends Well free of charge from the publisher through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. And when I requested the book, I honestly thought it sounded like something I'd enjoy. Turns out, I was not completely right about that.
I had trouble sticking with this one, and after reading it earlier this year I didn't really know what to say about it — which is why it's taken me so long to get any sort of review written. I still don't know exactly what to say about it, because I think there's a glimmer of a really good novel here; but it needs a lot more work. I think a couple of rewrites and a lot of trimming would certainly help. And while I'm a fan of dark humor, I didn't care for the way this book sort of hits you over the head with it — Levinson keeps pointing it out for you, just in case you've missed what he's trying to do.
I did enjoy some things about the book — loved the character of Diet and the relationship between him and Jacob, youngest son in the Jacobson Family; and the dying mother Roz was well-written and nicely developed (the section of the story seen from her point of view is some of the book's best writing). So it's not a terrible work, but it's very scattered, takes too much time to develop into anything interesting, and is much, much too long. I just think what it really needs is another draft.
📚📚📚📚📚📚Qualifies for the following reading challenges: New Authors Challenge; New to Me Challenge.