The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Sally, Harrison, and Lewyn are triplets conceived in a test tube. Despite sharing a womb, they’ve never had an interest in sharing each other’s lives.

Their parents were madly in love, yet a past trauma kept them at arm’s length their whole lives. The birth of the triplets was meant to heal wounds and bring the family together, but life doesn’t go as planned.

When the triplets are about to leave on to their respective futures as they graduate high school, their mother delivers the shocking news: they are going to have a baby sister. The last of their parent’s fertilized test tube embryos is growing in a surrogate and will be here soon. The latecomer is their sibling of the same age, just born 18 years too late. How will this change the family dynamic?

“That road, as it turned out, would be even lonelier than she had reason to fear.”

-Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Latecomer

Twists and turns, love and hate, truth and secrets.

This simple family becomes so much more as we unwind the secrets that drive their decisions. The past trauma can’t be escaped; only embraced. And when devastation strikes this family, it strikes in a momentously and irreversibly big way. When you throw in guilt, privilege, infidelity, and an identity crisis, you have all the makings for a drama-filled catastrophe.

Can the family survive calamity? Can they make amends before it’s too late?

I was so excited to read another of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s books! I just read The Plot and fell in love with her writing. So here we are again with another beautifully written drama with complex characters, a great conflicting plot, and several twists and turns along the way.

The Latecomer starts a bit slow to reel the reader in, but it does reel you in. It gently gives you enough intrigue to make you return for more.

A set of triplets. Okay. Oh they don’t like each other. Huh okay this might be good. Oh there’s the family drama!…

The slow burn was worth the wait because there were some plot twists that shook up the book. A few I guessed and a few I never saw coming that shifted the whole premise of these characters’ lives. I also must admit I made a very wrong guess about a twist that just made me feel silly. But that’s why Korelitz is the author and not me.

This book is genuinely lovely to read because of the prose. Korelitz has a way of creating dialogue that feels right and really gives the characters depth. She also makes sure to switch perspective and voice through different parts to really give you the inside track to certain characters’ minds.

My favorite parts were the sibling interactions, which is what this book is really all about. The intertwining fates and feelings of these siblings are so important. They start off with no interest in each other and gradually realize that they can still be an individual while having a family relationship. I’ve never been a multiple, but I do have a sister. I can completely relate to wanting to have your own sense of self and personality without it being dependent on a sibling.

There are some really big issues brought up in The Latecomer. Korelitz is not afraid to tell this story from the very privileged perspective of a rich family. The children grow up with a summer “cottage”, fancy things, and all the best that New York has to offer, not to mention Ivy League educations basically just waiting for them. There’s intentional discussion amongst characters about this privileged life and how they benefit from it, but not all think the same way about their in-born advantages.

The hot-button issues keep things real. When Korelitz introduced characters in the LGBTQ+ community, you know she is sincere and trying to represent the truth. She approaches different religions as a fair and unbiased author but realizes that her characters face a judgemental world. She’s placing characters into a real-world setting along with the struggles and successes a real person might experience in the situation. I like that she lets all of her characters make mistakes and grow while representing a wide spectrum of personalities and beliefs.

I highly recommend you read The Latecomer and all of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s other books. Absolute stunner and worth the read.

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