by Mary Adkins
Harper, 2019, 376 pages, General Fiction
For four years Iris Massey worked side by side with PR maven Smith Simonyi, helping clients perfect their brands. When Iris is taken by terminal illness at only 33, Smith is surprised to discover Iris left him a final request: for Smith to publish her blog as a book. 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.
When You Read This is an interesting take on the epistolary novel. Instead of carefully crafted letters, the reader gets bits of the story via a jumble of email messages, including spam; text messages; blog posts; and electronically-submitted essays meant to take the place of in-person therapy sessions. Although this is a romantic comedy in that it's obvious the two main characters will get together in the end, this book was mostly the story of two people dealing with grief. This combination of humor and sadness is delicately handled, and for me it hit just the right balance between the two. If you enjoyed books like Where’d You Go, Bernadette or Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, you will also enjoy When You Read This.