When You Read This by Mary Adkins
eBook review copy; 384 pages
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
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.
My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.