Review: “Late” throws on wealth and privileges

Jean Hanf Karelitz’s Celestial Books

Wealthy, dysfunctional families are so common in novels that it is easy to discard books about them. Don’t make that mistake with “The Latecomer,” which introduces readers to the Appenheimers, a New York family with triplets born through IVF who “were in complete flight from each other even before their original Petri dish”.

The title of the novel contains the key to the story, the fourth child added to the family when the triplets leave home for college. Her clear narrative voice is the novel, and reading it is enjoyable. Her sharing of family history and her role in her reconciliation drive the plot. About her mother, Johanna, an obedient wife who seeks to start a family with her husband Salo to find happiness after he killed two classmates from Cornell in a car accident, she writes: “It was a mistake to make a deal with myself. There is no one to agree to the terms. ”

The beauty of the structure of the novel is that the moments of the aha are revealed slowly, during the detailed stories of the life of each member of the family. We won’t even know the protagonist’s name until about a quarter of the book is done and connections between the characters are made to the last page. This makes for a very enjoyable read.

In addition to grief and guilt, the book touches on other important topics through the eyes of a privileged family. Religion is of great importance when one of the triplets, Levin, is sitting with a Mormon freshman in Cornell. He did not know, of course, the vast and alien territory known as “northern New York,” Karelitz writes, “where people lived without reference to Brooklyn Heights or even Manhattan … a desert of critical interest. for millions of people around the world, it would be a shock. “

Race also plays an important role when a triplets named Harrison meets a black Conservative during the first stop in his educational journey, a fictional institution called Roark in the New Hampshire Forest. This character with the perfect name Eli Absal Stone serves as a point of reflection not only for Harrison but also for the rest of the family as they struggle with identity and cultural appropriation.

If it all sounds very difficult and serious, the impression of reading the opposite. The crooked and penetrating voice of the story and the hope it expresses for her family and, consequently, those of us readers in the real world whose problems are carefully reflected in the novel, justify the time and effort.


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