The Latecomer

Celadon. May 2022. 448p. ISBN 9781250790798. $28. F
This saga of the New York City–based Oppenheimer family begins with the meeting of Salo and Johanna Oppenheimer under less-than-ideal circumstances, leading to a strange marriage more of convenience than of love. Johanna struggles with infertility but later manages to have triplets—Lewyn, Sally, and Harrison—through in vitro fertilization. The triplets are not close, and the siblings work progressively harder to get away from the family. Johanna’s longing for a happy family leads her to conceive a fourth child, Phoebe. But does the arrival of the latecomer yield the results Johanna hoped for? Korelitz (The Plot) touches on the themes of religion, the infidelity of Salo, wealth, and deceptions over the years, as well as, eventually, the grown Phoebe’s hopes to reunite all of them into a real family.
VERDICT Readers expecting a mystery might want to look elsewhere, as this is more of a literary tale defining what it means to be a family. It’s a marvelous story full of plot twists, intricacies, and depth in events that the reader will not see coming. Perfect for fans of character-based novels such as those by Sally Rooney or Lauren Groff.
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