The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

★★★★☆ (4/5)

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

  • Character is fate – that’s what he said 
  • Not now, Simon thinks. Not yet. If he speaks to them, their voices will reach into the warm, blissful ocean in which he’s been floating and yank him – gasping, dripping wet – onto dry land
  • In truth, it is not only Simon’s gayness that makes him feel this way. It’s the prophecy, too, something he would very much like to forget but has instead dragged behind him all these years. He hates the woman for giving it to him, and he hates himself for believing her. If the prophecy is a ball, his belief is its chain; it is the voice in his head that says Hurry, says Faster, says Run.
  • There’s no trick – just a curious combination of strength and strange, inhuman lightness. Simon can’t tell whether it reminds him of a levitation or a hanging
  • Gertie had her arms around Varya, and she was shuddering. Klara receded, ashamed. The privilege of their mother’s touch, her confidence, was something Varya had earned.
  • She understands, too, the loneliness of parenting, which is the loneliness of memory – to know that she connects a future unknowable to her parents with a past unknowable to her child
  • the family that created her and the family she created, pulling her in opposite directions
  • She knew that stories did have the power to change things: the past and the future, even the present. She had been an agnostic since graduate school, but if there was one tenant of Judaism with which she agreed, it was this: the power of words. They weaseled under door cracks and through keyholes. They hooked into individuals and wormed through generations
  • She was afraid of aberration, which could not be controlled; she preferred the safe consistency of symmetry
  • She chose pieces that both enhance and obstruct visibility: her couch is leather, for example, dark enough that she can’t see every speck of fuzz or dirt, but smooth enough that – unlike a nubbly, patterned fabric – she can easily skim it for anything egregious before sitting down

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