Review & Discussion Details: The World Without You

The world without you. Is it really any different now that you’ve gone? In Joshua Henkin’s latest novel, The World Without You, the Frankel family gathers in their summer Berkshire home for a memorial to their lost son, brother, uncle and father. Leo was the youngest, the only boy in the family, and a journalist covering the Iraq War. He was killed on July the 4th. It’s been one year since this tragedy and his wife, sisters, nephews and parents have not seen each other much over the past year following the funeral. Over the holiday weekend, they will travel from all over to come together and hold a memorial service marking the one year passing.

Inside the pages of The World Without You, Mr. Henkin unveils some of the most authentic and fascinating characters in Gretchen, Lily, Noelle, Clarissa, David, Thisbe, Amram and Marilyn (there are others too, but these are definitely the most notable!). And through Leo’s spouse, siblings, and parents the question of, is the world really any different without you, is sought. Does it take bringing the family together again as a way to recognize and realize the tragedy of their individual lives and to base their despair solely on the loss of Leo? Or was it just a matter of time and would they have fallen to pieces with or without him alive in their world?

The World Without You also features some of the best and well-written sibling rivalry between sisters and interaction between the daughters, their spouses and parents I have read in a long, long time. Again, extremely authentic. So authentic to me I actually thought I was standing in the doorway watching my own family come together during a holiday dinner!

All I know, Gretchen says, “is that I’m surrounded by blood relatives, but it’s the people who have married into this family who have shown the most character.”

The Opinionless Virtual Book Club held our own Q&A with Joshua on the evening of July 30 where we had the great pleasure in asking him questions about the novel, his inspiration, and his upbringing, to name just a few. We asked him questions about growing up with sisters as he writes with exceptional insight and predominantly from the female point of view? (he simply nailed that dynamic!) and shockingly, no, he grew up with all brothers!

We also touched upon the subject and any connection to Daniel Pearl by creating the character of Leo as a journalist instead of a soldier, during the Iraq war. Joshua notes he was quite aware of the connection yet there was no concious decision concerning Daniel Pearl, he was not writing about him specifically. He simply didn’t want Leo’s death to be about cancer, or a car crash. The Frankels are a politically astute family and therefore this scenario was a much better fit. He also touched upon the point about Leo dying on July 4th, a date when most Americans are celebrating, not mourning like the Frankel family.

Thank you Mr. Henkin for a wonderful hour spent chatting with you! Your insight and charm were a delight! Random House also held a Q&A session with Joshua and you can read this here, for further insight.

I’m now quite interested in reading his previous novel, Swimming Across the Hudson!

For other opinions of The World Without You, please visit these sites: Opinionless; Bagels, Books & Schmooze and

A few more… Literary Points of View

Here it is, in to February already! The month of love. It is also turning into a month of even more reading challenges and assignments! We’ll talk about those and here too is a sort of a January wrap up from the Literary Hoarders.

Has it really only been one month that we took on all these reading assignments and challenges for the New Year? Did we keep to any of the goals we listed here at all?

The first challenge we took on was the same as last year – the Goodreads 2012 Challenge. This year we each added on and came up with 65 books as our goal(s). To date, we are all on track and each of us has included audio books to help achieve this (lofty) goal.

Secondly, we joined on to HarperCollins Canada’s 50BookPledge and since we’re on track with Goodreads, we’re obviously on track here too. 🙂

Then, we signed on to Random House Canada’s Random Reader Challenge, which was to read any or all of the titles from their Historical Fiction list. We have until the end of February to achieve the goal of winning a snazzy little spice set. So far, (and while they tell us The Virgin Cure won’t count because we read it before the challenge started :-() we have read The Paris Wife, The Winter Palace, and right now Jackie will start reading Madame Tussaud. Not too shabby in our opinion!

Then it just started to get ridiculous and we signed on for another challenge, this time it was the Netgalley “all you can read in January challenge.” (They’ve since changed it to challenge you to read as many titles from Netgalley for the year.) I think we were quite successful in that challenge!

We read, courtesy of Netgalley: The Last Romanov; Obedience; Arcadia; Alif the Unseen; and The Winter Palace. Again, not too shabby for the month of January!

It was around the middle of January that the decision to sign on to any more challenges should just cease and desist. We made original goals to read from our shelves and for myself, I only read Faith. Which I hadn’t even included in my original list. But no matter, because it was simply wonderful and I’m still shaking my head that it was not brought more to everyone’s attention as much as it should have been!

For our Wink 3 and Opinionless Book Clubs for January, we were to read 1Q84 (Opinionless) which turned out to be a bit of a stinker generally, but would not trade it in for anything as our online discussion was a total riot. The term “tourette’s of the pen” still has me chuckling! And for Wink 3 it was American Dervish, which Jackie and I have just reviewed. An intense read! Surely to bring about much discussion on our Thursday night’s meeting as religion is a VERY touchy subject no matter amongst whom you’re discussing it with! We’ve already had one member weigh in with the opinion that it wasn’t as great as we considered it to be – still, a very good book overall in her opinion.

The rest of February and in to March is shaping up to be a very busy reading month! We have plenty of Opinionless Book Club books and Author Chats lined up! Very exciting!

The Snow Child arrived a couple of days ago, and hopefully Wink 3 accepts it as February/March’s choice! It looks soooo good!!

Here’s the Trailer for The Snow Child. Can’t wait!!

Cool news, it’s so cool beans!

Before The Literary Hoarders started this blog, we each catalogued an ever expanding list of books on this fabulous, wonderful site, (thanks to Jackie for finding it!).

If you haven’t checked out Goodreads, you definitely should! Every book you ever think to search for, find out about, what is coming out, etc. is on there.  Also on the site is the ability to see the whole wide world and what they are reading, what they thought about what they read, recommendations for your next great read, join readers in groups of like-read people and “friend” them too.  (There is also a growing contingent of people that participate on Goodreads only and have banished themselves from Facebook. (if I could perhaps mention one little suggestion to Goodreads, could we have a little Status line?) Anyway…on to the point of the post….after being introduced to an online book club by Michelle in Mississipi, called Opinionless, I began participating monthly in the reader’s choice for the month and online discussion via Skype on the last Tuesday of every month.

For November I am so excited to say we are going to be reading Canadian author, Nicole Lundrigan’s book, Glass Boys AND Nicole is going to JOIN US!

                          (it’s always nice to put the face to the name don’t you think?)

Two of the Literary Hoarders for sure are joining in and we need to give a shout out (and shameless plug) to Aaron’s coordination skills in setting this up for the Opinionless book club (and for starting the club). If you would care to join us, please do! Please pick up a copy of Glass Boys, read it and then head over to the site and link yourself up for the event…hope to see you there!

And to Nicole – a few fellow Ontarians will be on board to enjoy the evening. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us!

Glass Boys Synopsis:

When Eli Fagan discovers the secret his eleven-year-old stepson has hidden in an old pickle jar, he is filled with blinding rage. As he destroys the jar’s contents, brothers Roy and Lewis Trench, in a drunken prank, stumble into Eli’s yard, and their poor timing costs Roy his life. Though the courts rule the death a tragic accident, the event opens a seam of hate between the two families of Knife’s Point, Newfoundland. Powerfully written, with vivid and unflinching prose, Glass Boys is an utterly riveting, deeply moving saga of the persistence of evil and the depths and limits of love.

About Nicole Lundrigan:

“If there is a new wave of New­found­land fic­tion going on, Nicole Lun­dri­gan may be one of its lead­ers… Lun­dri­gan writes about New­found­land the way William Faulkner wrote about the Amer­i­can south.”
Dar­rell Squires
The West­ern Star
You can read more on Nicole’s website:
Right now she is reading February, by Lisa Moore and I loved this quote she included at the bottom of her blog post about the book and about fiction in general:

Read­ing Feb­ru­ary reminds me of what good fic­tion really does. A novel can take you far, far away. But some­times, with a lit­tle sweep, it car­ries you home.