This entertaining novel by Mary Adkins is a glance into the complexity of emotions that develop in the wake of grief. Written in a creative and easy-to-read epistolary style, the story follows the correspondence of the individuals who had connections to the late Iris Massey, who passed away from cancer at the young age of 33. Through emails and text messages, the reader gets an inside look at the ways in which the novel’s characters cope with the loss of Iris in their own ways, as well as form connections with each other. “When You Read This” serves as a testament to the fact that love and intimate connection can be found even after experiencing a loss.— From Kate's Picks
“Death is called the final act, but for our loved ones who survive us, the show inevitably goes on. In When You Read This, Mary Adkins gives equal stage time to Iris Massey, a woman recently diagnosed with terminal cancer who begins a blog about her experiences, and those she has left behind. Grief is a unifying theme in this novel, from Iris, who struggles to come to terms with her death, to her sister, Jade, who is left rudderless without her, and even Iris’ boss, Smith, who is determined to fulfill Iris’ last request of having her blog published as a book. Poignant and bittersweet, When You Read This is a well-rounded blend of romance, comedy, and drama.”
— Heather Herbaugh, Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, SD
One of Real Simple’s Best Books of 2019
One of Thrillist’s Best Books of 2019
One of Good Housekeeping’s Best Books of 2019
“Fans of Where'd You Go, Bernadette will love this. . . a bittersweet, often funny novel about hope, memory, and loose ends.”
—Real Simple, “The Best Books of 2019 (So Far)”
A comedy-drama for the digital age: an epistolary debut novel about the ties that bind and break our hearts, for fans of Maria Semple and Rainbow Rowell.
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.
Mary Adkins is a writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times and the Atlantic. A native of the American South and a graduate of Duke University and Yale Law School, she lives in New York City with her family. She also teaches storytelling for The Moth.