So this book asks the question: If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?
The story starts off in 1969 and follows the Gold children who sneak out to get their fortunes told by a mysterious woman who, according to gossip, has the ability to tell you the date that you’re going to die.
So each of the children, one by one, is called in by the psychic and each one is informed of their death day. Each of them then has to cope with this heavy bit of information, and we get to see what extent it determines how they live their lives.
So then we get their story, one child’s at a time, and we follow them to the last moments in their lives. In so doing, we get to see how their life unfolds knowing this information.
These dire prophecies drive them forward for the rest of their lives, seemingly influencing their decisions and even changing the course of their lives.
Some of them end up more reckless and take more risks than they might have otherwise. Others remain more cautious than they may have otherwise.
As I read along, I thought it interesting how the reader is prompted to wonder just how much of our lives are controlled by destiny or sheer luck if you will, and how much of it is controlled by our own conscious choices.
Interestingly, the fate of one of the characters specifically gave me pause and caused me to ask whether receiving a dire prediction as the Gold children did, could cause us to force those events to come to pass when they may not have occurred otherwise? So in this way, having too much information could end up working against us.
Or in the case of the Gold children, Was the fortune teller right? And, if so, do they possess the power to change the course of their own fates and decide their own destiny? That is to say, is our destiny predetermined or do we have a hand in changing what’s destined?
The story also made me wonder whether knowing our death date would cause us to live our lives to the fullest or would we instead live them with fear and dread of what’s coming? And in the case of our four characters, we can’t help but wonder whether their lives would have turned out the way they did were it not for the fortune teller?
This is definitely the kind of book that makes you uncomfortable while reading it — it’s a tough read in places, raw even. It’s a challenging novel as it forces up to consider profound themes such as life and death, destiny vs. free will, magic vs. science, religion, our tendency toward self-fulling prophecy, family, and regret to mention a few.
It’s no surprise then that the story is heartbreaking in more than a few places, but it’s also a deep, beautiful and magical story.
This is an incredible book, and I fell more and more in love with it as I progressed through each child’s story. I loved seeing how the fortune teller’s prediction impacted all of their lives, resulting in a riveting character study. All in all, a magnificent exploration of some weighty topics and I gave this five stars.