One Day We're All Going to Die

Elise Esther Hearst

One Day We're All Going to Die
Format
Paperback
Publisher
HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Country
Australia
Published
30 August 2023
Pages
320
ISBN
9781867251279

One Day We’re All Going to Die

Elise Esther Hearst

Sorrow and Bliss meets Normal People in this utterly compelling, darkly humorous millennial coming-of-age novel about a 27-year-old single Jewish woman in Melbourne who must learn to reconcile family expectations, cultural constraints and inter-generational trauma with her own desires. A coruscating new voice.

'A remarkable debut from an enthralling storyteller. I didn't want it to end.' Sarah Krasnostein

At 27, Naomi is just trying to be a normal person. A normal person who works at a Jewish museum, who cares for lost things, found things, sacred things and her family. A person who finds herself going on bad blind dates, having cringe-worthy sex, a tumultuous, toxic affair, and falling for a man called Moses.

Being a normal person would be easy and fine if she didn't bear the weight of the unspoken grief of Cookie, her Holocaust-survivor grandmother. It would all be fine if she just knew how to be, without feeling the pull of expectation, the fear of disappointing others (men, friends, her parents, humanity), and that pesky problem of being attracted to all the wrong people (according to her parents, anyway).

By endlessly trying to please everyone around her, Naomi can't seem to figure out what she wants for herself, or how to get it. With echoes of the dead and dying all about her, in objects, in story, in her grandmother's firm grasp, Naomi isn't quite sure she knows how to be a normal person, but she is going to try.

This fiercely honest, funny and fearless novel is a deep dive into the complex questions that surround culture, identity politics and generational trauma in contemporary Australia. Both a sadly affectionate and brilliantly unsparing examination of the glorious, awkward, messiness of life.

Review

Despite having a job that she loves, 27-year-old Naomi isn’t quite sure what she is doing with her life. She has never really had to forge her own path; coming from a privileged Jewish family in Melbourne (her parents even bought her a house), she has had everything handed to her on a silver platter. Turns out this doesn’t make for a happy young woman. Although her family is supportive, Naomi’s relationship with her mother is particularly co-dependent and not all that healthy. Her grandmother, Cookie, is hilarious and wise, but underneath it all remains deeply scarred by the past.

When a workplace crush turns into something more, and then becomes completely toxic, Naomi returns home to hide away from the world. Having always rushed headfirst into relationships, her fragile ego has taken a real battering this time, and she can’t move on. Trapped by her own insecurities, and by the wrong man’s attentions, Naomi quits the one thing that keeps her grounded, her job at a Jewish Museum. There she had found her place in the world, something she was good at. Researching objects from the past had put her own existence into perspective, and allowed her to experience something outside herself. Now she is lost, hurt, and spiralling. Fortunately, a new friendship, the support of her old friends, the love of her family (no matter how dysfunctional they are) and an inner strength she didn’t know she had, all allow Naomi to begin to figure out who she really is, and where her place in the world lies.

With a very familiar local setting, and some well-drawn and recognisable characters, this is a clever and emotionally intelligent debut. And fortunately for some of us, this ‘millennial coming-of-age story’ can also be enjoyed by people over the age of 30.

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