Heller's writing slices open the complicated roles and relationships among the family when a secret about Joel's past is uncovered. Character development is definitely the strong suit here, as readers get to know the Litvinoffs in the context of their familial roles, which contrast, often very sharply, with the personas we see develop in other social contexts throughout the novel. The family dynamic and its many confrontations often give the reader the feeling they are witnessing a train wreck, unable to avert their eyes. As the novel progresses, Heller brings to light the many dichotomies present in the Litvinoffs' lives: liberal vs. conservative; atheism vs. religiousness; rich vs. poor, while also exploring where each individual falls on the continuum of ideals such as honesty, trust, faithfulness, love and self-respect.
Though critics have said that The Believers is filled with unlovable--even unlikable--characters, it is a very real book about family. And that, I believe, is worthwhile.
Next up for review, I have several choices:
Mornings with Mailer
It All Changed in an Instant
The Queen of Palmyra