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fromfirstpagetolast

fromfirstpagetolast

When You Read This - Mary Adkins

Iris has died. Aged 33, she found she had lung cancer and was given only months to live. During her last few months she writes a blog about dying. Her final wishes are that her boss, PR executive Smith, publish the blog. First though Smith has to persuade Iris’ sister Jade.

 

I’ll admit at first I wasn’t sure what to make of the book. I found it strange and I wasn’t sure if I was actually enjoying it. It’s full of graphs and dots and Venn diagrams. The rest is written in the form of blog posts, emails, texts and letters to what appears to be a remote therapist. But it grew on me, and the form in which it was written made it easy to fly through the book.

 

There is a surreal quality to the book, lent in part by the modern-day epistolary nature. However, I think the writing style would still have given that surreal feeling if the book had been written in a more standard narrative style.

 

Iris almost blends into the background as the relationship between Jade and Smith develops. She is however, the star around which they orbit, drawn together by the loss of her. I enjoyed the latter half of the book more as we see the burgeoning relationship between Jade and Smith develop. There is also a lot of self-development as Jade and Smith look to themselves to see why their lives have turned out as they have.

 

There are some comedy moments. Carl for example, Smith’s intern, is probably one of the most egotistical and useless interns there has ever been. There are of course the inevitable sad moments, given this is a book revolving around grief and how it manifests. Iris’ blog posts are moving, the one that is the most effecting being the last blog post, right at the end of the book. There is also sadness from some of the comments to her blog posts, almost cruel in their nature, showing people still focussed on themselves when others are literally dying around them.

 

Whilst about grief in its many manifestations this is in essence a love story. It is about the love between siblings, of parental love in whatever form that takes, of romantic love and how some can only show love in toxic ways.