Thursday, January 24, 2019

When You Read This

When You Read This by Mary Adkins
HarperCollins: 2/5/19
eBook review copy; 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062834676 

When You Read This by Mary Adkins is a very highly recommended, heart-breaking epistolary novel set in our current digital-age.

Iris Massey, 33, worked for four years helping clients perfect their brands alongside Smith Simonyi in his PR firm. Once she found out she only had six months to live, she began blogging on Dying to Blog, a blogging platform for the terminally ill. Now, after Iris has died, Smith is surprised to learn about her blog. She also had one final request for Smith: she wants him to get her blog posts published as a book.  Smith looks at fulfilling this request with the help of his new intern Carl, while trying to get approval from Iris's sister, Jade. Jade, however, is adamantly opposed to this, but the two begin a correspondence and relationship while trying to deal with their grief.

The chapters in this novel are all emails, blog posts, online therapy sessions, text messages, legal correspondence, charts and graphs, comments, instant messages, etc., that work together to create a montage of interpersonal communication and relationships in the digital age. I enjoy epistolary novels when they offer insight into characters and situations. This one is an excellent example of the format. The communications are charming, tragic, insightful, hilarious (yes, there are some very funny moments), surprising, empathetic, belligerent, and self-aware. They provide the platform for present day actions and part of the backstory to the flawed characters.

Adkins did a great job keeping all the various correspondence from the characters true to their personalities along with what they are experiencing, feeling, and thinking. Carl is the impetus for much of the humor, along with Smith's patience with him. There were also several heartbreaking things shared, helping to further the development of the characters through this modern format. While the layout of this novel may not appeal to everyone, for those who can appreciate the format When You Read This is a real treat. Oh, and expect to cry. 

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

No comments: