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The World Without You is the story of a family struggling to come together--physically and emotionally--one year after the loss of the youngest sibling, Leo, a journalist killed in Iraq in 2004. As the family gathers for the July 4th holiday in their vacation home in the Berkshires, it becomes clear that the loss of their son and brother is not the only fracture in their relationships. The parents' marriage is crumbling, the eldest sister is so focused on trying to get pregnant she is neglecting just about everything else in her life, the youngest daughter is a promiscuous wild child turned Orthodox Jew who has moved to Jerusalem and feels alienated everywhere, and the middle child is must plain angry. Then there's Leo's widow, who is struggling to raise their young child without him. The story is about trying to let go and trying to hold on, about what--and who--we can live without if we must, and who--and what--we should try harder to keep.
This novel brought up a lot of emotions for me. Set in 2005, in the midst of the Iraq war,
it reminded me of the anger and horror that was commonplace on the nightly news, particularly the murder and televised beheading of an American journalist. Although I am Canadian, those images were so shocking that it made the whole world feel less safe. Plus, this is the third or fourth novel I have read in the past few months that deals with the death or serious illness of a child. As a parent, I'm just not sure how much more I can take of this subject matter. I think after this I'm going to take a break from novels that are about parents losing children. It's just too much heartache for me.
Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley.com. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.