“Jake Wolff takes as many risks within the narrative of The History of Living Forever as his characters. The author’s daring success can be measured in the feverish beat of his readers’ pulse as they are captivated, challenged, surprised, and moved. This tale of the alchemy of immortality, of the quest for an elixir of life, is powerfully driven by a tension between the desire to transmute the nature of life versus a reductive drive to prolong it. The mutability of time and character suffuse the story, making 16-year-old Conrad’s coming of age unexpectedly multi-layered and complex. If ever a book invited looking into the future, it is The History of Living Forever. I predict that it will have a long and glorious life.”Kenny Brechner, Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers
A chemistry student falls for his teacher and uncovers a centuries-old quest for the elixir of life
The morning after the death of his first love, Conrad Aybinder receives a bequest. Sammy Tampari was Conrad’s lover. He was his teacher. And, it turns out, he was not just a chemist, but an alchemist, searching for a mythic elixir of life. Sammy’s death was sudden, yet he somehow managed to leave twenty years’ worth of his notebooks and a storage locker full of expensive, sometimes baffling equipment in the hands of his star student. The notebooks contain cryptic “recipes,” but no instructions; they tell his life story, but only hint at what might have caused his death. And Sammy’s research is littered with his favorite teaching question: What’s missing?
As Conrad pieces together the solution, he finds he is not the only one to suspect that Sammy succeeded in his quest. And if he wants to save his father from a mysterious illness, Conrad will have to make some very difficult choices.
A globe-trotting, century-spanning adventure story, Jake Wolff’s The History of Living Forever takes us from Maine to Romania to Easter Island and introduces a cast of unforgettable characters—drug kingpins, Big Pharma flunkies, centenarians, boy geniuses, and even a group of immortalists masquerading as coin collectors. It takes us deep into the mysteries of life—from first love to first heartbreak, from the long pall of grief to the irreconcilable loneliness of depression to the possibility of medical miracles, from coming of age to coming out. Hilarious, haunting, heart-busting, life-affirming, it asks each of us one of life’s essential questions: How far would you go for someone you love?