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From the publisher:

A comedy-drama for the digital age: an epistolary debut novel about the ties that bind and break our hearts, for fans of Maria Semple and Rainbow Rowell.

Iris Massey is gone.
But she’s left something behind.

For four years, Iris Massey worked side by side with PR maven Smith Simonyi, helping clients perfect their brands. But Iris has died, taken by terminal illness at only thirty-three. Adrift without his friend and colleague, Smith is surprised to discover that in her last six months, Iris created a blog filled with sharp and often funny musings on the end of a life not quite fulfilled. She also made one final request: for Smith to get her posts published as a book. With the help of his charmingly eager, if overbearingly forthright, new intern Carl, Smith tackles the task of fulfilling Iris’s last wish.

Before he can do so, though, he must get the approval of Iris’ big sister Jade, an haute cuisine chef who’s been knocked sideways by her loss. Each carrying their own baggage, Smith and Jade end up on a collision course with their own unresolved pasts and with each other.

Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, online therapy submissions, text messages, legal correspondence, home-rental bookings, and other snippets of our virtual lives, When You Read This is a deft, captivating romantic comedy—funny, tragic, surprising, and bittersweet—that candidly reveals how we find new beginnings after loss.


I was hooked as soon as I saw “for fans of Maria Semple (love!) and Rainbow Rowell (LOVE!) So I had high expectations that were just barely met. I liked this book a lot but I didn’t love it.

I do love epistolary novels. My all time favorite is Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. If you haven’t read it, click through, buy this book and thank me later.

Back to this one. I enjoyed the email aspect of the book, but it took a while for me to warm up to the characters. But eventually I did, and even the secondary characters were good. I admit it took me a little while before I realized that Smith was a man. Guess I should have continued reading the synopsis, I stopped after the Rainbow Rowell comment. Carl, Smith’s assistant, lent comic relief and many funny yet cringe worthy moments to a book that is essentially about life, death, and how we deal with it all. Heavy topics that needed that relief.

Kudos to the illustrator and to Amazon; Iris’s blog has many drawings and I loved that I could tap on them on my Kindle and blow them up to see the fine details. They added another layer to the blog and the book.

Taking a difficult topic and turning into a romance is no easy feat, and Adkins achieved her goal. I would have liked a bit more ending in the book, it barely made it to where it needed to be. Maybe an epilogue? All in all, like most epistolary novels, this is a very fast read and I think it is one that will stay with me for a while.

02/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHEN YOU READ THIS by Mary Adkins. Harper (February 5, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062834676.  384p.




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