Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Atria. Jul. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781982167356. $26. F
DEBUT Gilda is depressed, and panic attacks send her to the local ER so often that she is on a first-name basis with the janitor. When she loses her job for failing to show up, her lack of money becomes a problem. A flyer offering mental health support takes her to a Catholic church, where she is mistaken for an applicant for the position of church secretary. The previous secretary, Grace, has died recently and might have been murdered. Gilda takes the job and, while catching up on the church’s email, finds messages from Grace’s friend Rosemary. She can’t bring herself to tell Rosemary that Grace is dead, so she begins sending emails impersonating Grace. Then she decides to investigate Grace’s death and ends up stalking the parish priest and an elderly parishioner—strange behavior that makes her a person of interest in the police investigation and lands her in jail. In the end, though, Gilda is exonerated and is able to resurrect her life.
VERDICT Austin uses seasons in the church calendar to identify stages in Gilda’s journey, moving from Advent to Easter as she captures the essence of Gilda’s angst and redemption. Along the way, her characters are hilarious, relatable, exasperating, and endearing. For all readers of fiction.
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