Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel Levinson
eBook review copy; 416 pages
Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel Levinson is a
highly recommended novel featuring black humor, a dysfunctional family,
and an anti-Semitic America.
It's 2022 and the Jacobson family is gathering
for Passover in Los Angeles. Jacobson siblings Mo, Edith, and Jacob are
also plotting to kill their father, the despicable, abusive Julian who
has made their lives and their mother Roz's life miserable. Now Roz only
has a few months left to live and the siblings are sure Julian is
trying to hurry her death along so he can have complete control of her
inherited fortune. After putting up with his emotional, verbal, and
sometimes physical abuse for years and watching their mother's plight,
it is time to end Julian's reign of terror while the whole family is
together to celebrate Passover. This is assuming, naturally, that the
three can work together and put old grudges aside.
The novel is told in four large sections by each of the siblings and Roz. Then there is a final word by Jacob.
Jacobson is the gay son who is currently a playwright living in
Berlin with his German lover, Dietrich. Jacob and Dietrich have traveled
together for what Jacob is sure will be the last time he sees his
Edith Jacobson Plunkett, or Thistle, is currently a divorced college
ethics professor who has a sexual harassment suit filed against her.
Moses Orenstein-Jacobson, or Mo, is an actor married to Pandora. They
have triplets and twins, all boys, and starred in their own reality TV
show called The JacobSONS! The family is meeting at their home, where
the Passover Seder will be filmed as a special episode of The JacobSONS!
Rosalyn Jacobson, or Roz, the mother of the three, has a surprising chapter of revelations and insights.
Along with the back stories of the four and the current murder plot of
the three siblings, there is also plenty of insight into all the abuse
Julian heaped upon his family. Julian is a truly evil character with no
redeeming qualities at all and continues in the novel to verbally and
physically abuse his family. You will want to see him get what he
deserves and appreciate the black humor as his demise is debated. The
siblings are not lovable characters either, but even with all of their
flaws they are definitely better than Julian.
Added to the whole grim atmosphere is the less humorous and more
insidious anti-Semitism running rampant in this not-to-distant-future
America. In 2022 Israel is no
more, after a war
during which the United States did nothing. Now 4 million Jewish
relocated to the U.S., which has resulted in a violent xenophobic
constant domestic terrorism.
Tell Me How This Ends Well is very well written and I liked the
chapters narrated from the point-of-view of an individual sibling. The
characters are extremely well-developed. While some of the action is a
bit farcical, it is entertaining - and disturbing. The best part of the
novel is the inept plotting of the three siblings. Some of their actions
and reactions are humorous and make the novel a pleasure to read. The
increasing and ever present anti-Semitism is just disturbing and
upsetting; it is perhaps a bit too realistic in this particular setting.
My review copy was courtesy of Hogarth.