In 1969, the four Gold siblings visit a supposedly mystical woman who can tell the date on which someone will die. The oldest sibling, Varya, is 13 when they receive the prophecy, and learns that she will live to 88. Simon, the youngest sibling at 7, learns that he will die at 20.
Benjamin chooses to tell the siblings' stories consecutively, in order of their death, which took a lot of the suspense out of the question of whether the prophecies were ultimately true, leading me to understand that the driving questions of this book is actually, "Does knowing the date of your death become a self-fulfilling prophecy?" Benjamin seems to take it for granted that we can accept the legitimacy of the prophecy but is so heavy-handed in answering the question of self-fulfillment that the stories of what happen to the siblings seems very shallow.