The Celebrants

Books on Tape. May 2023. 9:44 hrs. ISBN 9780593741207. $85.50. F
Rowley (The Guncle) celebrates life’s overwhelming beauty and messiness in this heartwarming story of five college friends who become a found family. A group of college roommates forges a bond at University of California, Berkeley, after the sudden death of one of their own. On the brink of beginning their adult lives, they are immobilized by grief and shock. The five make a solemn pact, promising that whenever one of them feels the need, they can call upon the others to gather for a living funeral, celebrating and supporting one another while they are still alive. One by one, the friends call upon each other in moments of crisis—divorce, death, sickness, and even pending criminal charges. No narrator is better suited to tell this story than Rowley himself. A gifted storyteller both on and off the page, he provides a riveting performance, treating listeners to the timing, phrasing, and inflections that he intended from the outset.
VERDICT Rowley’s deft narration enhances this affecting novel, which stresses the importance of supporting others and finding joy in even the most heartbreaking situations.
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