Why is tonight different from all other nights?
Tonight we kill dad.
In 2022, American Jews face an increasingly unsafe and anti-Semitic landscape at home. Against this backdrop, the Jacobson family gathers for Passover in Los Angeles. But their immediate problems are more personal than political, with the three adult children, Mo, Edith, and Jacob, in various states of crisis, the result, each claims, of a lifetime of mistreatment by their father, Julian. The siblings have begun to suspect that Julian is hastening their mother Roz's demise, and years of resentment boil over as they debate whether to go through with the real reason for their reunion: an ill-considered plot to end their father’s iron rule for good. That is, if they can put their bickering, grudges, festering relationships, and distrust of one another aside long enough to act.
And God help them if their mother finds out . . .
Tell Me How This Ends Well presents a blistering and prescient vision of the near future, turning the exploits of one very funny, very troubled family into a rare and compelling exploration of the state of America, and what it could become.
In Levinson's (Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence) prescient second novel, which speaks to the current political moment, the year is 2022 and anti-Semitism is on the rise in America. Against this background, the three adult Jacobson children gather in L.A. for their annual family Passover celebration. Jacob, a playwright, flies in from Berlin with his German lover, Dietrich. Moses, a former reality TV star, uses the holiday as a pretext for making a comeback, with his wife and their large brood accompanied by a camera crew. And Edith, a divorced college ethics professor, comes west while fighting a sexual harassment suit. All three have a secret agenda to kill their abusive father, Julian, on behalf of their terminally ill mother, Roz, who only has a few months to live. As the siblings squabble over the best way to accomplish this, they dredge up old rivalries and spend endless time re-evaluating the successes, failures, and old loves that have made up their lives to this point, making a case for the Passover Seder being the Jewish equivalent of Thanksgiving when it comes to airing family grievances. The characters here are gargoylesque caricatures, and the jokes, knowing and hilarious, fly fast and furious in the black comic manner of Bruce Wagner, Howard Jacobson, and Bruce Jay Friedman. The story's environment is claustrophobic, and in the book's depiction of latter day anti-Semitism, Levinson leavens the humor with some chilling cautionary notes.