WHEN YOU READ THIS by Mary Adkins

February 15, 2019

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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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CLASS MOM by Laurie Gelman

August 6, 2017

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Anyone who’s ever been a class room mother or even a PTA volunteer will easily identify with the hell these women go through. But here Gelman brandishes humor like a weapon, (ok, more like a Nerf gun,) gently making fun of all the archetype parents we’ve come to know and love this century – the lesbian moms, the helicopter parents, the mom with the highly allergic child, and so forth. If you are looking for an escape, a light read that is pure fun, you have come to the right book.

I was never the class mom, but I often volunteered, chaperoned field trips, was secretary of the PTSA when my son was in middle school, was team mom for Little League and softball and basketball, etc. Plus my kids are almost eight years apart in age, so I got to do it all over again with my daughter. So let’s just say I really related here.

Jen Dixon is not your typical kindergarten mom; for one thing, she already has two kids in college. When her best friend, also the president of the PTA, recruits her to be class mom, she rebels, then acquiesces, leading to a lot of really snarky,  funny emails sent to the class.

There are moms who do not appreciate the snark and a coup is attempted. Another of the class parents is Don, Jen’s high school crush, a single dad who she starts a flirty text relationship with. You know that is going to blow up in her face but it’s so much fun getting there. Jen and all her family drama justs makes us root for her all the harder.

Laurie Gelman is married to Michael Gelman, and if that name sounds familiar it’s because he’s the long time producer of “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” “Live with Kelly and Michael,” and actually goes back to the Regis & Kathy Lee days of the show (I actually heard about this book when she was on Live recently.) Gelman really captured this lovely suburban community well in her debut, plus I always love a good epistolary novel – the emails and texts bring it home. Nepotism aside, this was an afternoon read for me, and it truly did make me laugh out loud.

8/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CLASS MOM by Laurie Gelman. Henry Holt and Co. (August 1, 2017).  ISBN 978-1250124692.  304p.

Kindle