When You Read This

Harper. Feb. 2019. 384p. ISBN 9780062834676. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062834706. F
OrangeReviewStarDEBUT Four short months after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, 33-year-old Iris Massey breathed her last, leaving behind her grief-paralyzed older sister, Jade, and equally devastated boss, Smith Simonyi, who runs a flailing PR management firm. Jade walks away from a successful career as an in-demand chef, and Smith is in danger of tanking his business with gambling debts. Enter sassy millennial Carl Van Snyder III, hired by Smith as an intern for Iris's position. Carl discovers a blog that Iris wrote as she was dying, with instructions to publish it, warts and all. Thus begins the quest to make Iris's last wish a reality. Told entirely in emails, texts, and blog entries, the narrative traces the collision between good intentions vs. privacy-triggered resistance, angry distrust vs. cautious contact for comfort, mixed with perfectly timed comedic moments of relief.
VERDICT Debut novelist Adkins brilliantly captures the rhythms and cadences of the epistolary format in the digital age through a delightful cast of quirky, imperfect characters, both dead and alive. Tart, sweet, poignant, and rich with humor; completely irresistible. [See Prepub Alert, 8/27/18.]
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