When You Read This by Mary Adkins [in Booklist]
Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker – both masterful epistolary novelists – couldn’t have imagined how today’s virtual communication would become an ideal medium to tell a story about … well … death. Despite the potentially heavy topic, actor Sarah Naughton’s stand-up experience infuses a welcome light tone to Mary Adkins’ spirited debut.
At 33, Iris succumbed to virulent lung cancer. During the months between diagnosis and demise, she took to “Dying to Blog” to record her ending for “Maximum Departure Value™.” The “Dying” founders had once pitched their platform to the PR company where Iris last worked. What initially inspired ridicule is where Iris gets her last laugh – she leaves a final request for her boss, Smith, to get her story published.
While Naughton imbues Iris with a healthy dose of from-the-grave sarcastic skepticism, her survivors get more human manifestations: just-under-the-surface desperation for gambling-addicted Smith; headstrong determination for unemployed chef sister Jade; pure comic relief from Smith’s self-absorbed millennial intern Carl. Between the lines of blog posts (complete with comments), emails, and all manner of instant messaging, Adkins delivers a vibrant example of savoring our everyday lives.