For fans of Maria Semple and Rainbow Rowell, a comedy-drama for the digital age: an epistolary debut novel about the ties that bind and break our hearts.
Iris Massey is gone.
But she’s left something behind.
For four years, Iris Massey worked side by side with PR maven Smith Simonyi, helping clients perfect their brands. But Iris has died, taken by terminal illness at only thirty-three. Adrift without his friend and colleague, Smith is surprised to discover that in her last six months, Iris created a blog filled with sharp and often funny musings on the end of a life not quite fulfilled. She also made one final request: for Smith to get her posts published as a book. With the help of his charmingly eager, if overbearingly forthright, new intern Carl, Smith tackles the task of fulfilling Iris’s last wish.
Before he can do so, though, he must get the approval of Iris’ big sister Jade, an haute cuisine chef who’s been knocked sideways by her loss. Each carrying their own baggage, Smith and Jade end up on a collision course with their own unresolved pasts and with each other.
Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, online therapy submissions, text messages, legal correspondence, home-rental bookings, and other snippets of our virtual lives, When You Read This is a deft, captivating romantic comedy—funny, tragic, surprising, and bittersweet—that candidly reveals how we find new beginnings after loss.
Iris Massey may be dead, but her story isn't over in Adkins's endearing epistolary novel for the modern age. Before the events of the novel, Iris has died of cancer; prior to her death, she had maintained a secret blog about her health during treatment. After Iris's former boss and close friend, Smith Simonyi, learns of the blog, he approaches Iris's sister, Jade, about having the blog made into a book. Jade is not only opposed, but furious with Smith for wanting to reveal such private writing. After a rocky start, Smith and Jade eventually start corresponding about Iris, whom Smith misses so much he continues to "talk" to her over email. Jade, meanwhile, dedicates herself to researching a potential malpractice lawsuit against Iris's doctors and an email-based therapist. Told entirely in email exchanges and blog excerpts, the novel follows Jade and Smith as they help each other move on after Iris's death. Smith's emails to Iris are realistically personal, like diary entries, and Jade's initial defensiveness is an understandable coping mechanism. Although the format doesn't allow the characters to come fully to life, Adkins's debut is a touching, funny, and life-affirming tale.
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Incredible read!! So beautiful and moving but also funny and quick.