The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz: A review
The triplets are Harrison, Sally, and Lewyn, and they came about because Johanna was concerned that she had not become pregnant after three years of marriage and she consulted a fertility doctor. The treatment exceeded her expectations with the result that she ended up with not one but three babies.
The three had little in common beyond the fact that they had once shared a womb. In fact, they thoroughly disliked each other and would not even acknowledge their relationship to those who did not know about it. As soon as they are able to leave home, each goes his/her own way.
Johanna has hopes that having a new baby will somehow help to bring the family together, but, of course, it doesn't work out that way.
The first three hundred and fifty pages are narrated in turn by the triplets who come off as completely smug and self-centered. Each is consumed by his/her own feeling of self-importance and, reading their narratives, I often felt quite irritated by them. When their mother decides to have another baby, they can only view that decision in relation to themselves with no sense of the new baby as an individual and they view it as their mother's attempt to focus attention away from them and to get people to pay attention to her. There is no sense that this younger sibling will have anything to do with them or have any place in their lives.
So, we have yet another dysfunctional family story. Not only is it dysfunctional but its members are, for the most part, quite unlikeable. There are character studies of each of the family members through which the author explores themes of race and class, sexuality and belonging. In other words, she explores the roots of individual identity. It makes for compelling reading, and even though the book is quite long at nearly five hundred pages and some readers have complained about the length, it doesn't really feel long to me. The story moves along at a good pace and one is always ready to move on to the next page to find out what happens next.