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The quest for immortality is one on which people have embarked since we developed the existential understanding of what it means to die. Call it the fountain of youth, the philosopher’s stone, the elixir of life – whatever it is, it is meant to extend our lives beyond the limits nature has set upon them.

But even those who are single-mindedly devoted to that quest may need fellow travelers – and those travels can sometimes lead to something more meaningful than life everlasting.

Jake Wolff’s “The History of Living Forever” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; $27) is the story of one such quest – a quest that threads through the past, present and future and sweeps into its maelstrom two people whose all too brief connection would have widely rippling impacts on their lives and the lives of those around them.

It is a story of devotion, both to the ideas we hold dear and to the dear people who first conveyed those ideas to us. It is about different kinds of love and what it means to sacrifice. It is about bad decisions made for good reasons. It is about believing that science can explain everything – including magic.

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