The Immortalists, the second novel by Chloe Benjamin, introduces us to the four adolescent Gold children, from a religious Jewish family, during the steaming summer of 1969 in New York’s Lower East Side. The word on the street is that there is a traveling psychic currently installed on Hester Street who tells fortunes, including the exact date of one’s death. Not all of the children are totally on board with the idea, but with a little pressure from the oldest sibling they seek out this woman and after meeting with her individually, are each informed of their fates. It isn’t until years later that they share with each other what they have learned.
The book plays out in four parts, each examining the lives of Daniel, Varya, Klara and Simon. There is a wide divergence in their stories and fates. Simon comes out and leaves town for the free sexual scene in pre-Aids San Francisco. Klara, fascinated with magic, eventually pursues a career as a stage performer in Las Vegas; Daniel becomes a military doctor and Varya a primate researcher investigating the secrets of longevity.
The premise of the book is intriguing. The forbidden knowledge the children obtain is both curse and blessing. The story revolves around their sensitivity to matters such as the impermanence of life, destiny vs. choice, reality and illusion, and what is beyond, if anything. Does knowing when you will you die propel you to live a fuller life, or strip you of any joy in whatever time you are allotted? You wonder if they believe the psychic and if they will keep their appointed dates with death. What are the repercussions of this knowledge?
The book is well written, the unique personalities of the characters clearly fleshed-out. They are compelling, if not all entirely likable. The first part of the book moves quickly as we see Simon and Klara’s story play out. The chapters with Daniel and Varya later on are a bit slower and somewhat darker. Their stories are interesting, but do veer to a bit depressing, sometimes tragic and a little unsettling.
If you are looking for a light read, this is not for you. But it held my interest for the most part. Was the prophecy going to be true for them all? There are so many questions here, about life choices, family obligations, destiny, self-fulfilling prophesies, morality and free will, that it is quite a good pick for a book group discussion. You can start with asking “Would you want to know the day you will die?”
If you like The Immortalists, you could also try Chloe Benjamin’s debut novel, The Anatomy of Dreams.
Regular book edition
Large print edition
CD Audiobook edition
E book edition
E book audio edition
The Library is currently CLOSED to the public but staff are available by phone at 508-839-4649 Mon-Sat from 10-4.
The Book Drop was CLOSED until Wednesday June 17 and is available for returns 24/7.
IF YOU HAVE OVERSIZED ITEMS please call between 10-4pm, Mon-Sat, to arrange for us to wheel a collection bin out before your arrival.
PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ITEMS OUTSIDE THE BOOK DROP OR LIBRARY. Borrowers are responsible for all materials checked out – items must be in a dry and safe location for us to receive them back. If the Book Drop is full, please hold your items and call the Library at 508-839-4649 between 10am-4pm. We will alert you when it is available for returns.
The Grafton Public Library will remain closed to the public and began to circulate new materials via NO-CONTACT TAKEOUT/DELIVERY service July 13,2020.
We do not have a date for reopening to the public or resuming in-person programming at this time but we are conducting a virtual summer reading program “Imagine Your Story” and are running a Star Wars themed winter reading program from Dec 1-Feb 28, 2021.
Any and all dates are subject to change pending PPE and other COVID-19 data. We will shift our plan as we have new information.
Please note that all Library information comes through either this website, our social media pages, or Town of Grafton.
Please continue to wash your hands regularly and if you have any flu-like symptoms, please stay home until you have been symptom free for 24 hours without medication.
Thanks for your patience and understanding! We miss you!
During the month of April, staff continued to work from home, answering reference questions, helping patrons remotely with technology issues, and continuing their professional development. Some are volunteering in some capacity – tutoring, making masks, and participating in a Library of Congress handwriting transcription project. All have mandatory daily self-care practice of their choosing, ranging from exploring yoga and meditation resources on Hoopla and OverDrive to taking webinars on self-care and finding new practices. Some highlights:
- Sarah B., Allison C. and Heidi F.began planning a virtual summer reading program (IMAGINE YOUR STORY is the theme);
- Cyndi Z. and her son Graham moved D&D online via Discord; Cyndi has sewn over 400 masks;
- Allison C., our Teen Librarian, did many social media posts and produced interactive events on FB and published several newsletters for various audiences;
- Allie made reader’s advisory readlikes videos on our YouTube channel and has received over 1,000 views;
- Beth P. produced a slideshow for the poem The Walrus and The Carpenter;
- Jan P. began working on By The People, a Library of Congress project to transcribe handwritten primary source documents, and has been sharing library resources with her grandchildren, and has sewn a LOT of masks.
- Jen M.is producing a Baby lapsit storytime — due to publisher restrictions, they are private;
- Sarah B. is producing toddler and preschool storytimes and planning summer reading. She advocated very well for using BeanStack and our purchase of a 3-year contract was approved;
- Kristin P. has been learning social media and working on virtual programming and read-alouds;
- Sandhya S. has been providing STEAM programming and social media posts;
- The entire children’s room staff made a We Miss Our Friends! video:
- Eileen L. our accounts manager, has continued to pick up mail, get the bills paid, and worked a few days on site;
- Donna B-T., our cataloger, is doing database cleanup from home and returned to work a few days a week to deal with receiving and cataloging new books;
- Heidi F. is running book group on SLACK and managing the library email account and voicemail with Susan – they are fielding reference questions, helping with expired accounts and getting into Library databases and issuing virtual cards;
- Susan L. has done purchasing via OverDrive to keep new content coming! She has also been checking in on volunteers and home delivery recipients;
- Marilyn W. has taken an overwhelming number of webinars and shared her knowledge. Please join me in congratulating her to moving from 35 to 20 hours a week to take on a part time clergy gig.
We continue to issue library cards for remote access to library databases and electronic resources.
I have joined the Return to Work team for the Town of Grafton.
I have drafted a press release for reopening — we are getting emails, Facebook messages, and blog post comments asking when we will reopen to the public.
I have drafted a Phased Plan for reopening with input from staff and Town Administration. Current plan is for staff to report June 15 and take book drop returns, and begin no contact curbside pickup/home delivery 2-3 weeks later.
When we open to the public, we would be required to do contact tracing for anyone who enters the building from staff to patrons to service and delivery persons. This is in conflict with ALA guidelines. Even during a public health emergency, libraries should continue to adhere to their mission and stand by the law and ethical standards that govern the provision of library services. Please review: https://chooseprivacyeveryday.org/protecting-privacy-in-a-pandemic-resource-guide/. I would recommend continuing curbside/delivery as long as possible for safety and privacy reasons.
I put together a supply list of sneeze guards, footprints, stand here decals, gloves, gowns, masks and paper bags and shared with the RTW committee – we are trying to centralize ordering. ToG will provide 3 cloth masks per employee and paper masks for the public (when buildings open to the public). We will need gloves and masks for the book drop, 9 sneeze guards, footprints to show a path through the building, stand here signs, and caution tape to block off furniture/rooms.
I have drafted a list of staff returning/working from home (due to age, immuno-compromised status, children at home, and ability to work from home, etc.) and shared with Town Administration and HR. Staff who can continue to work from home have been encouraged to do so.
I have participated in phone/zoom calls and meetings for Board of Health, Library Construction Project, Building Committee, Grafton Community Preservation Plan, and Department Heads as well as RTW committee.
I did advocacy for MA Libraries participating in Virtual Library Legislative Day including sending personal invitations to Rep. Muradian and Senator Moore, and advocating at the national, state, and local for library worker protection and funding.
I participated in 3 webinars:
- ALA Connect Live: COVID-19: Well-being of Library Workers
- Working Together on Planning, Policy and Legal Issues for Reopening a Public Library: The Board, the Attorney and the Librarian
- MBLC Zoom call regarding the MA Public Library Construction Program grant (MPLCP)
- Additionally, I was a panelist on a National Library of Medicine webinar “Leading with Compassion during the COVID-19 Crisis”
I did some collection development, ordering materials via Overdrive.
And, as always, managing staff and budget and building and the construction project.
The staff has continued to provide fast service to patrons who contact the library and found creative ways to offer programming.
To clear up some misinformation, our construction site has been continually staffed, and due to 19 days of rain in April, there was a lot of rainwater pooling on site (not contaminated groundwater). As of the end of May, the foundation work has started!
APRIL 2020 STATS
Staff produced 39 programs with 259 views! Adult services hosted 5 online book discussions and co-hosted GUM Jam for a dozen participants. We posted a number of interactive games and activities on Facebook. A report on the Winter Reading Program was forwarded under separate cover on May 6 – We had 202 people register to participate in the program. Since the Library closed before the official end of the event, I will not have total numbers of badge counts until we are back at the Library and give patrons a chance to pick up any unclaimed badges. Allison sent out a Winter Reading Program survey and had 38 patrons respond, including some who did not participate in the program…
CIRCULATION IS DOWN due to our closure. Staff checked out 132 items in April. We circulated 3,010 digital items from OverDrive and Hoopla, a 26% increase from March. We purchased 202 digital ebooks and eaudio for all ages. Bookflix had 344 hits. Tutor.com had 41 hits in April, and we are renewing our contract in July and increasing available hours from 2-9pm to 9am-9pm at no extra cost.
Cyndi did 10 socially distanced notarizations for a neighbor closing on a house; since the Governor signed an emergency order to do virtual notary services, we will use Zoom going forward. No passports, per Department of State. No test proctoring due to closure. No volunteers or museum passes. No computer use, but 97 wifi sessions (at least 8/day were internal from the Folding at Home project).
4/21 Yes, we can set up online chat – we have a widget on our website, and have responded to questions via FB, email, phone and even text message all hours the library was open – 10-9 Mon-Thu and 10-5 Fri & Sat. (took a while to set up!) -BG
4/8 Yes, we have access to the New York Times via Gale databases (it is embargoed — current day not available until the next day) – Go to libraries.state.ma.us -HF
4/28 No, we are not accepting returns yet.
4/22 No, the Library does not yet have a plan for disinfecting books when we re-open -we waiting on guidance from state and national organizations doing research on the longevity of the virus on library materials -BG
4/8 No, we do not have online access to the Wall Street Journal – but you can access with a BPL e-card . -HF
4/21 During the GPL Mystery Book Group: “Thanks Heidi for organizing these reads and for bringing us joy during these stress filled days.”
4/18 “I can’t wait for the addition to be finished! I drive by it everyday and voted for it multiple times.”
4/10 Patron Facebook comment about online toddler storytime: “Luke LOVED it! He watched it twice! Nice to hear a familiar voice again.”
4/3 “Heidi, Thank you so much for going above and beyond to help me with my question. You not only called me twice but also sent me detailed instructions. Since you were able to help me so much, I was able to sign up with Hoopla and Overdrive.”