This was an epistolary debut novel. It was different. It was funny. It dealt with death and loss and made us think of how people are, some wonderful, some clueless, some lost, some found. Jan and I read this one in two days. It was a quick read, but one that left us having a bit of a different view.
This book is a fun twist on the epistolary novel.
Iris Massey is dead of terminal cancer at the young age of 33. Smith, her boss at a struggling PR firm, is still reeling from her death when he discovers she had spent 6 months writing a blog filled with her musings. She left instructions for him to publish them after her death.
Doesn’t sound too fun yet does it? But with the help of his overly-eager college intern Carl, Smith attempts to get permission to publish from Iris’s neurotic sister Jade, and things get complicated. Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, text messages, and online therapy sessions, their inner lives and the baggage they each carry come to light. Carl the intern is hilarious and provides much of the humor.
Equally funny and poignant, this is a look into how to come to terms with regrets, loss, and grief, and move on in life. But make no mistake, this book isn’t drab and depressing. Carl comes along at just the right moments to add the needed levity. The format may be a sign of the digital age but the insight and emotions conveyed are timeless.
This was a buddy read with my friend Marialyce. While I enjoyed it a bit more than she did, we both found it to be a worthwhile read.
Thirty three years old and dead of cancer. This is an age where many are just starting to live and find their way and place in the world, and yet for Iris Massey, life was at an end. She worked for Smith Simonyi, and it is he who is surprised by a blog written by Iris that contained her musings about life, death, love and longing. The blog was a sad, yet oftentimes humorous look at life and death. Carl, an over zealous intern, though not too hard working intern, and Smith decide to honor Iris’s last wish which was to have her blog published.
Entering into this, was Iris’s sister, Jade, who is reeling from the loss of her sister. She doesn’t want the blog published so she enters this war of words with Smith and as they battle one another verbally, they learn not only about Iris but also about themselves.
I have to say, I am not a fan of books that tend to be on the gimmicky side. I think the gimmicks often take away something, (don’t ask me what exactly), from the telling. I guess I prefer the words, and yes, there were some wonderful words in this story, to be the harbingers of the book. Did I laugh, you bet. Did I cry, well no, but I did feel sadness, and in the end is that not what a book should do, make you feel something? This was a book to make you think of what the loss of a young life does and how in the end, life does go on, but for those left behind the void can never be filled.
and here’s the author:
Mary’s debut novel WHEN YOU READ THIS (HarperCollins) is available now in eight languages. She is a storytelling trainer with The Moth, a graduate of Duke University and Yale Law School, and co-host of the podcast I’M STILL HERE! about making art after kids. Her work has appeared in the New York Times and the Atlantic.