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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Why Liv? by Jon Sebastian Shifrin is a wonderfully told story with an international setting that takes readers from New York to Barcelona, following the spiritual odyssey of Livingstone Mordicai Ackerman. From the outside, Liv’s bread is buttered. His life is the envy of many or that is what it seems: a brilliant girlfriend, a well-paying corporate job, and more. But his seeming success is a veil that hides the chagrin he carries within, with difficult and overbearing parents and a girlfriend who can’t think beyond herself. His personal crisis is aggravated by the political climate that rocks the country with the emergence of the Patriot Posse, a political group that gradually grips the hearts of many, following the slogan of their shady leader: “Make America Great Again.” As the group grows in popularity, it becomes clearer that they will take the presidency. Liv can’t stand the idiocy, so to preserve his dignity and sanity, he dumps everything and sets out for Spain in search of meaning, and perhaps, himself.
Why Liv? is divided into two parts: Dusk, which symbolizes the gloomy moment in the life of the protagonist, and Dawn, which announces his rebirth, a journey towards hope and meaning. This is a beautiful story told in a language that is meditative and that features strong political and spiritual themes. At the heart of the story is one man’s quest for meaning, a subject that has eluded the American populist society, especially since the advent of Donald Trump. While this is a story written to entertain readers, it is timely and contains universal lessons on societal values, humanity, and what it takes to live a meaningful life. It is a powerful critique of a society that is easily swayed by what is ephemeral. Jon Sebastian Shifrin writes in gorgeous prose and creates characters that are compelling and believable while painting a society that is home to many, yet one that feels uneasy to live in. It is thought-provoking and entertaining. Why Liv? is a wake-up call to contemporary Americans, a book that challenges how readers approach political reality.