It’s not difficult to fathom that a few years into the future, the world will be an uncomfortable place to live in, with limited resources and groups coming to harm after being targeted by hateful people, as the world has already shifted to reflect this scenario. Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel Levinson depicts the 2022 reunion of a dysfunctional family in Los Angeles during Passover.
The Jacobsons have had conflicting experiences with and emotions about the family patriarch Julian Jacobson. His wife Roz has withstood his moods and his control over her money for years, but with her recent terminal medical prognosis, questions about her rapid demise arise from her children. Moses, Edith, and Jacob, the adult Jacobson children, all have varying recollections of how their father treated them, but a majority of their opinions of him are negative – so much so that they’re colluding to kill him to free their mother, and themselves, from his manipulative tyranny; however, in order to be successful, the children first to have to get along among themselves.
Family dysfunction is a topic rife with nuances to explore, on both the collective and individual level, which the narrative explores and develops fairly well. The story was not as funny or compelling as the synopsis had me thinking it’d be; however, there were amusing aspects to the tale that kept me entertained and interested enough to read further. There’s an attempt to cover a lot of ground throughout this book: anti-Semitism, personal and familial dysfunction, and a murderous plot. Each of these aspects is a lot to address individually, but trying to address them all made the narrative feel a bit forced or unbelievable while sacrificing the potential for some serious conversations to be started with some of the thought-provoking ideas presented.
Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.